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MOKTTEBPV 0„,,,„ri,. 98943-5002 


Monterey, California 







Karl-Heinz Bernhardt 



December 1986 


Advisor: Dan C. 


Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited 


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Naval Postgraduate School 

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Bernhardt. Karl-Heinz 

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1986 December 

IS P A ("j t C O L, N T 




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Double-stack, twin-stack, COFC , 
container unit train 

9 i:.BSTRACT {Continue on reverie it neceinry and identify by block number) 

Double-stack container train service was successfully introduced in 
1984 and has expanded rapidly since. The newly designed five-platform 
articulated well railroad car serves as the vehicle. Space-age 
computer-assisted design has helped to engineer a radical departure from 
conventional railcar configuration and produce significant weight and 
rolling resistance reductions. Commensurate with introduction of this 
new generation of equipment, the ocean carriers and railroads have 
developed new cooperative train scheduling procedures and 
container/railcar handling methods. Additionally, the higher volume of 
containers per stack train has forced a redesign of railyards and marine 
terminals. Opportunities for unique military application of stack train 
technology and possible container rate reductions await the military 
transporter. The expedient maturation of stack train technology has 






Dan C. Boqer 

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provided an early opportunity for a thorough review of its 
development, the impact upon the containerized freight industry, 
and the stack trains' potential value to the military. 

S N 0102- LF- 014- 6601 


Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited. 

Double-Stack Unit Train Container Service: 
Its Commercial Impact and Value To Tlie Military Shipper 


Karl-IIeinz Bernhardt 

Lieutenam Commander. Supplv Corps. United States Navv 

B.B.A., Universitv'of Toledo. 1977 

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the 
requirements for the degree of 


from the 


December 1986 


Double-stack container train service was successfully introduced in 1984 and has 
expanded rapidly since. The newly designed five-platform articulated well railroad car 
serves as the vehicle. Space-age computer-assisted design has helped to engineer a 
radical departure fi-om conventional railcar configuration and produce significant 
weight and rolling resistance reductions. Commensurate with introduction of this new 
generation of equipment, the ocean carriers and railroads have developed new 
cooperative train scheduling procedures and container railcar handling methods. 
Additionally, the higher volume of containers per stack train has forced a redesign of 
railyards and marine terminals. Opportunities for unique military application of stack 
train technology and possible container rate reductions await the military transporter. 
The expedient maturation of stack train technology has provided an early opportunity 
for a thorough review of its development, the impact upon the containerized freight 
industry, and the stack trains' potential value to the military. 






D. SCOPE 10 









1. Landbridge Service 20 

2. Minibridge Service 20 

3. Microbridge Service 21 

4. All- Water Versus Bridge Route Competition 21 








1. Southern Pacific 29 

2. American President Lines 29 





1. Longitudinal 41 

2. APL Innovation 43 

3. Rolling Movement 44 

4. Vertical Movement 44 




1. Similarities 45 

2. Groimdsmen 45 

3. Theft Protection 46 

4. Cycle Loading 46 


1. Fuel Consumption 47 

2. Streamlining, Weight Reduction, and Articulation 47 

3. Streamlining Improvements 49 











1. Global I 58 

2. Mub And Spoke Route System 60 


1. Introduction 61 

2. Intermodal Container Transfer Facility 61 

3. On-Dock Transfer 63 









2.1 Intermodal. Configurations 12 

3.1 Estimated Linehaul Cost Comparison 27 

4.1 An APL Double-Stack Railcar 31 

4.2 A 100-Ton ASF Truck 32 

4.3 Double-Stack Train Main Trafiic Flows 34 

5.1 Gunderson Five-Platform Railcar Set 39 

5.2 View of Gunderson Railcar's Open Well 40 

5.3 View of Thrall Railcar's Open Well 41 

5.4 The Gunderson Twin-Stack Railcar 42 

8. 1 New Global I Gantr>- Crane 59 

5.2 The Intermodal Container Transfer Facilitv 62 



A sweeping change has manifested itself in the manner in which ocean carriers 
and railroads are conducting business, best embodied through examination of the new 
railroad double-stack unit train container service first successfully introduced by 
American President Lines in April 1984. 

Innovations in intermodal cooperation, service contracts, new rolling stock, and 
container handling methods create the demonstrated potential for container rate 
reductions, more prompt and reUable service, less shipper involvment, and improved 
shipment traceability through door-to-door service and shorter scheduled train transit 

Sufficient progress has been reached over the past two years to enable a 
thorough examination of the state-of-the-art operations of double-stack trains by the 
railroads, ocean terminal operators, and ocean carriers. Consequently, its present and 
future impact on the military shipper can be assessed. Further, military service 
apphcations will be explored in view of the unique double-stack equipment technology. 


The main objective of this thesis is to rigorously acquaint the military transporter 
to the new double-stack train industry, and to the new service procedures, container 
handling processes, and business arrangements that have accompanied its introduction. 
In so doing, a comprehensive description of the innovations in railroad operations, 
terminal operations, coordination between railroad and steamship lines for both service 
and contractual arrangements, and equipment design will be presented. Imphcations 
for the military shipper regarding feasibility of unique service apphcation for stack 
equipment and container rate reductions will be reviewed. Peripheral issues such as 
railroad track wear will also be addressed. 


Imphcit to the aforementioned issues, the following primary research question 
has been postulated: 

What is double-stack, unit train container service, how has it developed, and what 
unique service applications and potential for container rate reductions appear feasible? 

Secondary questions pertinent to the subject include: 

1) How is double-stack container train service difierent from conventional 
container-on-llatcar (COFC) service and what efliciencies does it provide 
operators and shippers? 

2) What service applications ^and container rate reductions are foreseen utilizing 
the unique advantages of double-stack, unit train container equipment and 

3) What service handling and equipment changes have taken place and are 
planned at railroad vards and ocean terminals to best take advantage of 
double-stack containei" unit trains? 

4) What eOect has double-stack container train service had upon competing 
transportation modes and what coordination cooperation has evolved betweeii 


This case study will examine the development of double-stack unit train container 
service to date; its impact upon the manner in which railroads, ocean carriers, and 
ocean terminals conduct business; and its current and projected impact upon the 
shipper. Also. militar\' applications of the new types of equipment fielded by the 
railroads will be researched. 

The scope will include double-stack train effect upon rates, service, cargo 
traceability and loss and damage, container handling procedures, and market niche 
(limited to non-proprietar\' and unclassified data). 

Existing rail costing models may be applied as necessary'. No attempt will be 
made to develop any new empirical container rate structure, but it will seek to identify 
any obvious changes in container rates wrought by the economies of double-stack 


It is anticipated that the character of this study will remain general enough to 
provide thought provoking reading for a broad audience. However, limitations prevent 
expanding the background to encompass a review of the entire intermodal freight 
transportation industp.'. Naturally, the greatest benefit will be to the military 
transporter with some foundation in container cargo movements. 



Accumulation of data for the double-stack container train industry will include a 
comprehensive review of published literature with complementary telephone and 
personal interviews of representatives in the ocean carrier, ocean terminal, and railroad 

The impact of double-stack technology upon military cargo container rates will 
be assessed through analysis of the MSC Container Agreement and Rate Guide and 
through interviews with MSC contracting personnel and ocean carrier government 
sales representatives. 

Equipment manufactures will be solicited for engineering data concerning 
equipment capacities and service specifications. Future technological innovations will 
be reviewed as well as possible adaptation of equipment for unique militan,' 
applications. The Transportation Engineering Agency (TEA) of the Militar\' Traffic 
Management Command (MTMC) has provided their plan for research efforts involving 
double-stack railcars. 

Published information will be limited to non-proprietary and unclassified data. 


This thesis incorporates nine chapters. Chapter II provides general background 
regarding legislative developments, market forces, and the intermodal industry'. 
Chapter III will discuss the embr\'onic development of the double-stack concept by the 
ocean carriers and railroads. Chapter IV will describe the introduction of the double- 
stack service and the current double-stack network. Chapter V will thoroughly 
describe available stack equipment, the dilTerences between competing brands, and 
their advertised cost-saving features and potential for further improvement. Chapter 
VI will describe and interpret a representative exempt rail transportation agreement. 
Chapter VII explores militarv* service considerations. Chapter VIII investigates 
terminal efficiency as it relates to double-stack service. Chapter IX presents a 
summar>', conclusions, and recommendations. 




A burst of technological innovations has swept the intermodal freight industry in 
the past five years, one result of which has been the successful introduction of 
articulated container-on-container railroad train cars. Figure 2.1 pro\ides a 
representative comparison between conventional trailer-on-flatcar (TOFC), 
conventional container-on-llatcar (COFC), and the new double-stack COFC. 



40' COMTAJMin 

40' COWTAINin 


40' COMTAlNiK 


a CBMTAiWin 




Figure 2.1 Intermodal Configurations. 

This equipment, operated in unit trains of 20 cars hauling 200 containers per 
irainload, is being initiated with increasing frequency by railroads in high-volume 
corridors for both scheduled and nonscheduled service, and also both in fixed contract 
movements for ocean carriers or direct retail hauls for commercial shippers. Transit 


times are tightly managed and unit train movements are [lexibly coordinated directly to 
vessel sailings with steamship line representatives and thereby avoiding interchange 
delay. Dramatic fuel savings of 20 to 40 percent have been reported with significant 
overall operating cost reductions resulting from union labor concessions and equipment 
eniciencies. The dramatic expansion of double-stack container service since April. 19S4 
has had a noted impact upon all aspects of intermodal container service to U.S. 
shippers, both import export and more recently in domestic container freight traffic 

The implications for the shipper and the industry from just this one evolution are 
so great as to engender investigation of new opportunities for the military 
shipper logistician into discounts for existing service, new and faster service, and 
unique service applications resulting from double-stack, train equipment features. 

Because double-stack train service is a recent development (American President 
Lines first introduced successful coast-to-coast double-stack service with the Union 
Pacific Railroad in April 1984). comprehensive Uterature is just at this time reaching 
print. Because a large segment of miUtary transportation personnel have had little 
opportunity to familiarize themselves with double-stack container trains this justifies a 
primer covering the background, existing service, and potential for unique military 
applications of the container-on-container articulated well train industry. A major 
postulation will be supported by this review that interprets the host of technological 
and procedural innovations surrounding double-stack train service as having been 
brought about through analysis of the traditional transportation system from new 
angles and enactment of enlightened legislation. In other words, the precept being 
promoted here incorporates the belief that, through enabling legislation, the 
spontaneous introduction of double-stack container service has acted as a catalyst in 
innovative thought and helped open the door for other complementary and novel 
container handling procedures and business concepts (cycle loading,' unloading of 
containers at railyards, improved telecommunications between ocean carriers and 
railroads, shifted emphasis upon coordination of larger container unit trains toward 
vessel sailing schedules, etc.). 

Ready acknowledgement is paid to the fact that the double-stack container boom 
has mushroomed so in the past two years as to make any comprehensive review dated 
literally within weeks. This treatise can best serve the reader as background, definition, 
and fertile material for creative thought. As such, this chapter is intended to provide 


both an explanation of legislative origin and industrial equipment evolution to steer the 
reader into a better understanding of the intermodal container segments of both the 
railroads and ocean carriers. 

The intermodal container industry has developed as an entity all its own. crossing 
all transportation modes in a vertical integration elTect. A feeling for this maturing 
segment of the international transportation industn,' strongly complements an 
understanding of recent stack train activity. 

A note at this point about terminology is in order. Twin-stack, double-stack. Lo- 
Pac 2000. Fuel-Foiler. two-tier. Twin-Pak. and container-on-container are just some of 
the industr\' nomenclature or brand names gaining popularity for describing the 
stacking of one container atop another onto a redesigned, articulated, well flatcar or 
skeletonized railcar. Of these, it seems double-stack has been adopted most readily by 
the press as industry' terminolgy. The sensitivity of many equipment manufacturers 
and intermodal service companies towards association of their product or service to 
one or more of these terms is acknowledged. However, without discriminator}" or 
promotional intent, the term double-stack, as popularized by the media, will hereinafter 
generically describe the act of placing one container atop another onboard a railcar. 


In order to properly understand the developments surrounding the evolution of 
the double-stack concept in the 1980s, a comprehensive background review is necessar\' 
to focus upon those events leading up to the introduction of the stack train. The 
discusion in this section draws heavily from John H. Mahoneys publication, 
Intermodal Freight Transportation, as prepared in 1985 for the ENO Foundation For 
Transportation, Inc. in Westport, Connecticut. [Ref. 1] 

The double-stack train concept is an extension of the intermodal, container 
revolution that gained popularity in the 1950s. Interestingly, the first recorded carriage 
of freight by intermodal truck trailers on railroad Ilatcars was in 1926 on the Chicago 
North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad. Piggyback services, as both container or truck- 
on-flatcar services were then called, grew slowly but steadily until the middle 1950s, 
when the pace quickened. The development of long-haul rail-truck intermodality was 
hampered between the 1920s and the mid-1950s by the growing rail-truck competition 
for long-haul trailic and by inflexible government regulations. The present expanding 
intermodal operations are attributed to the relaxation of regulaton," restraints beginning 
in the mid-1950s. 


In addition to the parochial attitudes of the railroads and the aggressive over-the- 
road truck competition, the Interstate Commerce Comniission (ICC) in 1931 issued a 
decision to a container service case which placed an additional roadblock before faster 
rail-motor intermodal development. The decision required that rail rates for intermodal 
containers be related to the class rate structure in that it required no container move at 
less than the carload rate or more than one class lower than the any-quantity basis 
applicable to the commodities in question. The carload rate on the highest-rated 
commodity would have to be applied to the whole containerload if it was higher than 
third class. Plus, varying rates with minimum weights m the 4000 to 10000 pound 
range were prohibited. This elTectively put a lloor under piggyback rates and made 
rate calculation much more compUcated. The final act limiting intermodal 
development was a 1935 Association of American Railroads (AAR) resolution against 
through routes and joint rail-truck rates except where such arrangements would not 
constitute invasion of another railroad's territory. 

A major precursor to stack train technology was the introduction of piggyback 
trailer-on-fiatcar (TOFC) and container-on-flatcar (COFC) service. Development of 
TOFC service remained tentative as the New Haven Railroad petitioned the ICC in 
1953 for a declaratory' judgement on the legal status of piggyback services in many of 
its ramifications. In the spirit of The Transportation Act of 1940 which recommended 
". . . developing, coordinating, and preserving a national transportation system . . .", 
the ICC issued findings in 1954 that generally favored piggyback development as an 
intermodal instrument. It found that through rates and joint rates between railroads 
and motor common carriers were permissible and further delineated the roles of 
railroads, private carriers, contract carriers, freight forwarders, shippers, and others in 
relation to piggyback carriage. 

Five major piggyback plans evemually developed from these ICC actions. In 
1955, the Pennsylvania Railroad inaugurated a Plan I type service (railroads line-haul 
motor carrier's trailer with no shipper railroad contact) for trucklines. Plan II service 
(railroad service at rates competitive with motor carrier rates) was also authorized. 
Plans III and IV service (less complete services involving flat rates per trailer regardless 
of contents), useful mostly to freight forwarders, were not cleared until 1962 by 
afTirming decision of the Supreme Court. In 1964. the ICC issued Ex Parte 230. a new 
set of rules clearly deUneating the five plans, declaring I and V to be "joint intermodal" 
and II. III. and IV as " open tarilT". permitting the latter's use by all types of carriers 


and shippers. The railroads' challenge to the "open tariif aspect was denied by the 
Supreme Court in 1967 and. thereupon, piggyback service plans were solidified and 
became one of the developmental cornerstones leading to the eventual introduction of 
stack trains. 

In the business arena, a major milestone occured in 1956 as the Trailer Train 
Company began railroad car leasing operations. A major catalyst in the ready 
availability of llatcar rolling stock for TOFC COFC operations. Trailer Train presently 
operates approximately 120,000 cars for use by most railroads and aggressively pursues 
development of new rolling stock technology, such as articulated and stand-alone well 

Another cornerstone to stack train development occured on April 26, 1956. when 
a converted tanker carrying 58 trailer vans on its specially adapted decks, sailed from 
Newark, New Jersey to flouston. Texas, thereby touching off the container revolution. 
Actually, this event demonstrated three principles necessary to support an industry that 
incorporates large-volume unit movements of containers by rail. These included 
movement of cargo in standardized containers, oceanborne movement of containers, 
and eOlcient land-sea interchange of containerized cargo. Malcom Mclean, a trucking 
executive, used the operating rights of the Pan Atlantic Steamship Corporation as his 
medium to support, in 1956. the initial sea-land experiment. The service was successful 
from the beginning. At the outset he used converted tankers, the Ideal X and the 
Alema. each with a capacity of 58 20-foot containers. 1 he fleet was soon expanded by 
two more converted tankers. In 1957. the company took deliver\- of the first ten 
containerships. each with a capacity of 226 35-foot containers and equipped with ship 
mounted cranes. The company name subsequently changed to Sea- Land Services. 
Today Sea-Land Services is the worlds largest containership line. 

Moving from the demonstration phase to institutionalization was another matter 
indeed. The U.S. Navy's Militan.' Sea Transport Service (MSTS) began experimenting 
with 6x6x6-foot steel containers for militar\" shipments on commercial vessels shortly 
after World War II and quickly developed as a result of the Korean War. these 
military containers were referred to as container express boxes, or more popularly as 
CONEX boxes. By 1967 there were over 100.000 CONEX containers in use worldwide, 
and the success of this system led to later development of intermodal ocean containers. 

During the 1950s almost ever>- major steamship line invested in containers similar 
to CONEX containers. Flowever. containerized shipments constituted only a ver}' 


small fraction of the load on any one sailing. Containers ranged in size from 
approximately 250 cubic-foot to approximately 500 cubic-foot capacity. Leasing firms. 
such as CONTR.A.XS. invested in these square shaped containers and steamship lines 
employed them mostly on a pier-to-pier basis, not intermodally. 

The CON'EX box reached its peak popularity in 1965 and then, except for 
mihtap.' use. faded rapidly, being replaced by the standard 8x8x20-foot dn.' cargo 
intermodal container. It is used as a basic measuring stick in many statistical 
comparisons and is referred to as a TEU, a twenty-foot-equivalent-unit. An 
8x8x40-foot container is equal to two TEUs. 

The land-sea intermodality aspect progressed slowly, mainly as a result of 
competitive animosity between land and sea modes combined with institutional 
lethargy. Intermodality was confined primarily to local pickup and delivery' of 
containers by trucks. Even though trailers were hauled by TOFC in the early 1960s, 
the individual shipments were rehandled at truck terminals, railroad pier stations, or 
steamship piers. Few unitized shipments went overseas intact until transatlantic 
container service mushroomed in the later 1960s. 

One major obstacle to containerization was the heavy initial investment in 
containers, vessel conversion, and terminal facilities. Full cost savings could only be 
achieved through uncompromised fully converted containership operation. The subsidy 
system did not encourage U.S. ocean carriers to make capital investments for profit 
enhancement. The United States shipbuilding subsidy program was based on potential 
ton-miles produced per dollar spent, rather than on operating elficiency or profitability 
of ships produced. As a result the program continued to crank out obsolete breakbulk 
vessels long after the container revolution had proven its point. Labor unions fought 
containerization because of the negative impact upon the total number of future union 

Conference carriers, were especially insulated from any new ideas. The 
framework within which they operated was a share-of-the-market allocation system 
among themselves. Having operated on a subsidized basis within this allocation system 
for many years, they had dispensed with research and planning departments as 
unneeded. and therefore did not have an internal alarm system that might have alerted 
them to the need for change. Successful containership operators currently engage in 
"load-centering", or limiting the number of ports of call, funneling the freight through 
just a few major ports, and serving other ports by local land or sea connecting carriers. 


In the 1960s, though, load-centering would have altered the conference's established 
share-of-niarket allocations, thereby pitting conference members against each other in 
an unwelcome competitive struggle. 

Additionally, the conference rate-making system was based on commodity rating, 
which allowed the conferences to set prices on the basis of "what the traffic will bear". 
Containership pricing, by contrast, is based on a flat per container or per ton rate, 
regardless of the conunodities packed inside of the containers. Because conference 
carriers felt their margin of profit came from the high-rated conunodities. it was 
difficult for them to accept the possibility that lost revenue from this source would be 
ofTset by the efllciencies of containership operation. 

However, in early 1966. Sea-Land Service inaugurated the first transatlantic 
containership service, and by 1973 virtually all transatlantic trade was carried by 
containerships and ro-ro (roll on-roU off) vessels, albeit dominated increasingly by 
foreign carriers. 

One noted change to the ocean carrier's financial makeup is that the container 
revolution made an already capital-intensive business even more capital-intensive by 
reducing dockside labor costs and increasing capital equipment costs. Double-stack 
train equipment and expected innovative crew reductions continue that trend for the 


One of the principle benefits resulting from the deregulatory legislation enacted in 
the 1970s and 19SOs was the liberalized permission for carriers of one mode to own and 
operate carriers of another mode. In a decision under the new legislation, the ICC, 
eflective Januan.' 6, 1983, eliminated regulatory restrictions enacted in 1935 to protect 
the then infant trucking industn.' from the railroads. This new flexibility was greeted 
warmly by the rail and ocean carriers but with some dismay by the trucklines because 
rail carriers have greater inherent financial clout to buy out many of the smaller motor 

Another important deregulatory boost to intermodality was to free rail piggyback 
carriage from all ICC regulations. This was accomplished, not alone by legislation, but 
through an exemption promulgated in an ICC rulemaking procedure under the 
umbrella of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980. The ICC proceeding was entitled Ex Parte 
No. 230 (Sub. 5), the results of which became efTective March 23, 1981. Ex Parte No. 


230 (Sub. 5) was actually instituted on August 21, 1978. prior to passage of the 
legislation, but it was not pursued vigorously by the Commission until late in 1980. 
after both the Motor Act and Staggers Rail Act became law. This action has aiTordcd 
the railroads greater flexibility to price piggyback competitively against truck, hauls, as 
well as wider latitude for routing tratTic on joint rail-piggyback hauls involving rail- 
owned trucklines. A more recent rulemaking proceeding. Ex Parte No. 230 (Sub. 6). 
decided 20 September. 1984. extends piggyback deregulation to exemption of truck 
rates from regulation in joint piggyback operations with the railroads. 

Piggyback has grown considerably since its inception in the 1950s as noted. In 
1977 piggyback traffic represented seven percent of all rail revenues, second only to the 
carriage of coal. From 1969 to 1977 rail piggyback tonnage grew by 40 percent, while 
rail tonnage generally dropped by six percent. In spite of the increase in piggyback 
tonnage, it had not reached forecasted volumes, amounting to less than one percent of 
all intercity freight movements by all modes at the end of its initial period of growth. 

Less-than-anticipated volumes were attributed in part to the federal regulatory 
structure preventing flexibility and inhibiting creative marketing. Further, a lack of 
aggressiveness on the part of the railroads to promote piggyback was blamed again on 
regulatory inhibitions, a reluctance to cooperate with truckers, and a perception that 
piggyback was only marginally profitable. Also, the shippers felt that the service was 
complicated by lack of coordination among modes and noncompetitive in terms of 
flexibility and transit times. 

However, in 1977 the deregulatory process began and carrier reluctance about 
cooperation with other modes, and lack of enthusiasm for new intermodal piggyback 
services, changed significantly for the better. 

Simultaneously, the interstate highway system began to fall into a state of 
disrepair in the late 1970s, after years of neglect, thereby furnishing rail piggyback 
services with a boost in competitive image. Highway fuel and truck tax increases 
further contributed, but were ofTset somewhat by subsequent liberalization of weight 
and size limitations for highway trucks and trailers. 

In 1983, piggyback volume accounted for 12.4 percent of all rail carloadings, 
ranking second to coal (27 percent). That same year. 2.3 million flatcars carried almost 
four million trailers or containers by rail. In May 1984. Trailer Train reported that its 
piggyback operations had grown 18 to 19 percent over the previous year. Final figures 
for all rail carriers in 1984 showed that trailers and containers loaded rose 11.7 percent, 


to 4.569.094. while the number of cars loaded with trailers and containers rose 14.6 
percent to 2.690,659. 


This dramatic increase in piggyback service as brought about by deregulation 
contributed strongly to the development of stack trains in so far as the growing 
pressure by rail carriers to serve a burgeoning conventional COFC market led them to 
explore new ways to more elTiciently accommodate the higher container volumes 
through a finite number of increasingly busy rail corridors. The answer was to increase 
the container unit train carn-ing capacity through stack train technology and keep the 
number of trains operated from skyrocketing. Another vital market force receiving 
widespread credit as a priman.- motivation in fostering double-stack unit train service is 
the expansion of "bridge" services that cross the U.S. continent. Landbridge, 
minibridge. and microbridge are terms used to describe rates for the land portion of 
certain intermodal movements of freight across the United States or Canada, or to and 
from points within these countries. 

1. Landbridge Service 

First conceived in the 1960s as a more elTicient means of shipping between the 
Far East and Europe, the U.S. Canadian landbridge uses transatlantic and transpacific 
water transport combined with rail piggyback to move goods across the North 
.Anierican continent. Two distinguishing characteristics of this landbridge are: (1) the 
entire movement between the Far East and Europe is covered by a single bill of lading 
issued by a steamship company or an NVOCC (non- vessel operating common carrier). 
and (2) the goods remain in the same container for the entire movement, in spite of 
the publicity given landbridge, volumes moved have not been significant. The 
U.S. Canadian landbridge was intended to compete against the all-water route via 
India at a time when the Suez Canal was closed and the Siberian landbridge was not 
yet in full operation. 

2. Minibridge Service 

U.S. minibridge was created shortly after landbridge. It applies to shipments 
moving between foreign and U.S. (and Canadian) points. The rate is calculated as if 
through all-water transportation were used to or from a port near the U.S. (Canadian) 
citv of origin or destination. 


The shipment actually moves via the designated U.S. (Canadian) port, but by 
surface transport. For example, a minibridge shipment from Japan to Wilkes Barre, 
Pennsylvania could use the all-water rate from Japan to the port of Philadelphia, then 
a rail or truck rate from Philadelphia to Wilkes Barre. even though the cargo actually 
arrived by sea at Los Angeles and moved by rail to Wilkes Barre via Philadelphia. 

As in the case of landbridge. minibridge shipments are covered by a single bill 
of lading, and the goods remain in the same container for the entire movement. 
Minibridge tariffs are published by the steamship lines, and the proportional divisions 
of the revenues are negotiated by steamship lines with other intermodal carriers. 

There are minibridge systems linking the Far East with U.S. points via West 
Coast and East Coast ports (as in the Japan- Wilkes Barre example), and linking the 
Far East with U.S. points via West Coast and Gulf ports. An example of the latter is 
a shipment from Montgomer\'. Alabama moving by rail to New Orleans, then to the 
port of Los Angeles, and by ocean carrier to the port of Pusan, Korea. There are also 
systems linking Europe with U.S. points via East Coast and West Coast ports (for 
example, Hamburg, Germany via New York and San Francisco to Sacramento), and 
also systems linking Europe with U.S. points via East Coast and Gulf ports (Dallas to 
Copenhagen via Houston and Baltimore). 

3. Microbridge Service 

Microbridge service and rates were devised in 1970 to apply directly between 
interior U.S. (and Canadian) cities and foreign cities via a single port, avoiding double- 
port transits of minibridge systems. Modifying the minibridge Japan to Wilkes Barre 
example, the microbridge movement would be from Japan to a West Coast port such 
as Oakland and then direct via rail piggyback to Wilkes Barre, avoiding the port of 
Philadelphia. The movement would be charged a through rate, possibly discounted 
below the combination of rates via the port utilized. A microbridge shipment also is 
covered by a single bill of lading issued by a steamship company or an NVOCC. the 
cargo remains in the same container for the entire movement, and tariffs are published 
by the steamship lines, which negotiate proportional divisions of the revenues with 
their intermodal partners. Neither shippers nor consignees have control in deterniining 
routings or port gateways to be used in microbridge movements. 

4. All-Water Versus Bridge Route Competition 

Minibridge and microbridge rates and services, especially microbridge. have 
had a considerable overall market impact. Deregulation by the ICC and EMC 


(Federal Maritime Commission) has given aggressive carriers greater freedom to use 
these systems to undercut existing rate structures, to direct cargo from ocean rate 
conferences, to negotiate rates with shippers, and to implement through rates without 
notice or explanation of the proportional division of revenues between participating 
intermodal carriers. In elTect. it has caused a significant change from the environment 
of the 1916 Shipping Act that permitted ocean carriers to join together to fix and 
enforce rates and conditions of service. 

One of the most significant deregulator\" moves by the ICC was to eliminate 
piggyback rate regulations, permitting ocean carriers to establish through intermodal 
rates using piggyback at almost any rate level that they wished. The ICC move was 
soon followed by FMC action permitting publication by ocean carriers of intermodal 
through rates without separating the portion representing the ocean carriage. 

As the bridge traflic became more susceptable to flexible pricing schemes 
ocean carriers became more interested in cutting operating costs and maximizing profit 
while at the same competing aggressively with the all-water routes. Concomittent to 
the significant savings in overall transit times {for example. U.S. Lines' Yokohama- 
Chicago bridge transit times by containership via the all-water route to a Savannah 
port call), the bridge rate need only be comparably priced as a result of the double- 
stack economies in fuel and labor savings. It is significant to note at this point that 
initial probings by APL (American President Lines) in 1982 towards railroad 
development of double-stack technology resulted in only rebufls [Ref 2: pp. 30-31]. It 
is interesting to observe that an ocean carrier had the vision to see value in reducing 
the overland movement costs for competitively shifting cargo market share from all- 
ocean to ocean-rail movement. One would logically have expected the railroads to 
advance technology themselves that would capture cargo market share from a 
competing transportation mode, a sensitive topic with railroad management. 

Intermodalism became a popular "in" word in the United States in 19S5. 
However, the idea was strongly promoted in the early 1970's when McKinsey was 
advocating main port to main port marine transport, and the more farsighted operators 
in Europe saw the advantage of using integrated transport sytems and developed them 
slowly taking full advantage of existing railroad and inland waterway routes. 
Development of intermodalism remained stunted for a decade because [Ref 3: p. 13]: 

1) Relatively few containers moved to the hinterland. 

2) Ship operators had to jnaintain their position in the conference system by 
calling at a full range of ports. 


3) Ports fought to maintain status by insisting on direct calls. 

4) Road transport was relativelv expensive in view of the long distances to be 

5) Above all. reeulatorv agencies controlled the terms under which the railroads 
could accept cargo. 

The opportunities resulting from reaching new inter-corporate agreements and 
restructuring multi-modal corporations came into reach in the 1980's commensurate 
with enacted deregulations necessan.' to facilitate these business arrangements. The 
speed and efficiency that has become synonymous with double-stack unit train 
operations have allowed this new technology to become a major link necessar\' for 
intermodalism to blossom. 

In relation to the bridge services previously described, stack trains have been 
reported to reduce transit times betweeen the Far East and the U. S. Midwest by three 
days and New York by four days when compared with conventional COFC flatcar 
service. Overall, there is a savings of nine days compared with the all water route 
between the Far East and New York [Ref 3: p. 14]. Rail officials additionally claim a 
reduction of between one and three days on transit times between Europe and the 
Middle East to the U. S. west coast compared with the all water route [Ref 3: p. 14]. 
Quantified savings have been more controversial and less publicized. Some shipping 
lines have expressed overall savings of between 15 and 20 percent compared with 
conventional COFC flatcars but no comparisons between the all water and rail routes 
have yet been published. [Ref 3: p. 14] 




Existing reviews that describe the double-stack container train phenomenon all 
cite one or another of a host of economic and market driven forces as the progenitors 
of the twin-stack innovation. In fact, its appearance is tightly interwoven with the 
development of new cargo movement control and handling methods that are 
encompassed within intermodalism and incorporate the "just in time" philosophy of 
inventory level management. 

The events described in the previous chapter provided the latitude for exploration 
of new cost saving technology and different methods that would lead to service 
improvement. But what need would drive a carrier to such development efforts, and 
what mode would initiate development of the stack train concept? A look at the 
economic market conditions of the past decade is in order. 


An excess of "bottoms" (as cargo-carrying ocean vessels are typically referred to 
in industry slang) has become a virtual tact of Ufe for the steamship lines in the latter 
70's and 80's. as overconstruction and a worldwide general economic recession brought 
the rapid expansion of international container movements to a halt. Instantaneously, 
two other trends of major importance surfaced. Imports to the L'nited States from 
Pacific Rim countries rose sharply, and the L'. S. industrial base was evidencing a shift 
from heavy" industries of the "rust belt" to service industries of the "sun belt" 
specializing in soft high value, vulnerable, and non-transportable offerings (services 
requiring only international electronic communications and no movement of cargo). 
Further, European consumers were expressing a new interest in Japanese manufactured 
goods, posing a challenge to the European businessman. This trend has caused an 
increase in containerized cargo moving form the Far East to European markets, either 
via our all-ocean round-the-world carrier or utilizing the U. S. Canadian landbridge. 


The glut in container service, by keeping container rates depressed, has denied 
steamship lines any profit-taking opportunity that could have resulted from the 


escalating value-of-goods shipped in containers. That has caused a greater emphasis 
on cost control and saw the early demise in the 70's of Sea-Land's SL-7 super- 
containerships that had high speed capabilities and fuel-gobbling habits. This has 
further forced the construction of "low-cost-per-container-slot" 4400-plus TEU 
containcrships that operate economically through low fuel consumption diesel 
propulsion at a disadvantage to the former containcrships' speed. This speed 
reduction, complete with their gigantic size, has brought on the new intermodal 
concept of load-centering in which all ports are identified by steamship Hnes as load 
centers or feeder ports. Their superships, in round-the-world transit, call only at load 
centers, and containers are then shuttled to and from the other feeder ports for the 
final inland delivery. In this way, the superships call only at ports capable of efiiciently 
handling the unloading and onward movement/distribution of such large quantities of 
containers all at once. They also minimize the total time that the container is involved 
in its slowest portion of the journey, the over-the-ocean leg. The ability to quickly and 
economically move large quantities of goods around the world has aided the emergence 
of a "global" economy. Concentrating production or heaxw industry in the southern 
regions of the world has allowed the focus to shift from an industrial to an information 
society in the northern regions. This places a new burden upon efficient interval 
movement of containers in bridge, minibridge. microbridge and even domestic 
movements in the United States, being a conveniently located "island" between the fast 
developing Far East and the Euro- Mediterranean land mass. Political exigencies 
continue to prevent the Siberian landbridge from opening up to its full potential, 
although an increase in traffic has been experienced. 

The imminent fruition of load centers, conceptually not a new idea, the inevitable 
focus on total transportation system cost control, and the soaring emphasis on the 
time factor brought on by high-value goods has in the last few years generated strong 
competition between U.S., Canadian bridge traffic and the all-water Panama Canal 
route. The advent of unit stack trains in landbridge traffiic in April 1984 by American 
President Lines has provided a further divergence in coast-to-coast transit times (three 
days quicker over conventional COFC service) between landbridge and the all-water 
route. This has allowed the already depressed bridge rates to remain, but at an 
improved profit to the ocean carrier. The ocean carriers are reaping the majority of 
profit by engineering fixed contracts with the railroads to haul containers via stack 
trains based on a flat container charge and not value-of-shipment variable rates. The 


ocean carriers are interfacing directly with the shipper and not. with some domestic 
cargo and backhaul traffic exceptions, the railroads. Further, the coast-to-coast transit 
time improvements stem from an insistence by the ocean carriers for railroad stack 
train service, instead of conventional COFC. They have linked with the railroads a 
new philosophy of managing the departure, movement, and arrival of stack trains in a 
much more closely coordinated fashion. Ocean carriers are routinely in a constant 
interface with railroads via ocean carrier representatives stationed in railroad yards and 
via computer hookup. This allows the railroads to schedule and control through 
movements of double-stack unit trains directly to vessel arrivals and departures. 


In essence, the need for economical stack train service was funneled through 
steamship lines as a direct result of the increased need to compete eOectively with all- 
water service (United States Lines, Evergreen, etc.) to and from the Far East. 
Although the economics are obvious, the volume trend was predictable, and the 
technology was at hand. APL executives who approached various segments of the 
railroad industry seeking a partner in the development of the double-stack were turned 
down. It was labeled a "boutique train", too speciaUzed to be widely accepted for rail 
use. APL. therefore, developed the stack train concept to fruition. [Ref 4; p. 46] 

Analysis of internal railroad statistics by car-type reveal that other pressures may 
have caused a resistance to double-stack implementation as well. Two major points 
bear mentioning. Both rail intermodal and truck traffic have grown in the past three 
years at the expense of the boxcar. The economics of the double-stack container are 
such that on long-haul movements neither TOFC nor truck are going to be able to 
slow the diversion of traffic from their mode. The use o[ boxcars from plants and 
distribution centers to wholesalers and shipper-direct is down dramatically. One 
shipper reported car useage in total was down from 35,000 to 40.000 cars a year in 
1978-79 to 18,000 cars a year in 1984 with nearly all cars now used in 1984 in inter- 
plant service. A second shipper reported that customer direct shipments by boxcars 
were down from 95 percent boxcar to a point where, within 90 days of the interview, 
there would be no boxcar loads to the customers. However, there would be 7000 to 
7500 intermodal customer moves in 1984. The "trailer freight" pool of the domestic 
surface transportation industn.' is most vulnerable to diversion to containers operating 
on stack trains. Most shippers do not diilerentiate between intermodal and truck in 

defining "trailer freight"; it is simply total freight moved. As stack train service 
(combined with hub to ultimate consignee delivery by truck) proves the equal of TOFC 
or over-the-road truck, its cost benefits will lure more and more shippers to it. 
Assuming a "ramp-to-ramp" intermodal charge to the shipper of approximately S.70 to 
S.SO a mile, it is clear that on a stack train where power, fuel, and labor are held 
virtually constant at the conventional COFC level, a container ramp-to-ramp rate of 
approximately S.40 to S.50 may be possible. Figure 3.1 compares estimated linehaul 
costs for various intermodal configurations and graphically illustrates the overall 
economic advantage that double-stack technology encompasses. By pricing the 
backhaul container space at the margin, S.-^O a mile, ramp-to-ramp domestic container 
freight has become a reality, as American President Company's (APC, the new parent 
of all .AP companies) subsidiary American President Domestic Transportation 
Company (APD) has already experienced in their eiforts to concentrate solely on 
developing the domestic container freight market. [Ref 5: pp. 249-253]' 






A 2-*5 Iroii«ri on Conventional fOFC Con 

8 45 rrail«ri on *rticula»«d Cori 

C 48' Troil»ri on Articulottd Carl 

Morin» Contain»ri on Con»«ntionol CCX Cart 

C. 45 Oomaitic Contoinari on Articulated Cart 

r TraiUri vvithoul Con 

C DTi-bl* - S'ocii td 45' Dom«»l.c ContQ.n»fi on *rticulot«d Can 



♦ Cxdudes Capital Co^t? o* Locomotives, Railcard, Trailers and Containers 

Figure 3.1 Estimated Linehaul Cost Comparison. 


The "Achilles heel" for railroads in diversion of trafilc from conventional 
COFC TOFC and boxcar to stack trains is the tremendous potential for 
underutilization of relatively new. undepreciated rolling stock and the added cost of 
investing in wholly new unique ec[uipment in order to compete or even just maintam 
their share of the freight market vis-a-vis other railroad and truck competition. For as 
the port managers are quickly finding out. deregulation and the increased cargo 
mobility that stack trains oiler are changing their traditional port territories established 
by conference agreement and. likewise, may allow signilicant enough shifts in cargo 
volume between ports serviced by competing railroads to alter a rail carrier's base load 
from that point. In order to avoid this investment gamble in equipment, railroads have 
resorted to including in their service contracts with the ocean carrier a clause directly 
passing along the car hire and mileage charges for the new equipment and locking the 
ocean carrier into penalty payments for tonnage shortfalls or early contract 
termination. This has essentially passed the stack train equipment rental risks onto the 
ocean carrier [Ref 6: pp. 3-4]. In short, by putting many of the world economic, 
steamship line, and domestic railroad trends together, it has been shown that the 
development of double-stack trains came about concurrently with. and. in turn, proved 
a catalyst for further development of the new global intermodal transportation system. 

Each facet of the double-stack industry and related events surrounding the stack 
train involvement with the new intermodal expansion will be reviewed next in further 




1. Southern Pacific 

The first scheduled double-stack trains were inaugurated by Southern Pacific 
Railroad in 1981 with service between California and Texas. A total of 42 bulkhead 
retainer type cars were constructed by ACF Industries, Inc. The concept, however, 
didn't have an immediate impact upon the COFC, TOFC market. [Ref 7: p. 10] 

2. American President Lines 

The next entrant was American President Lines, which had pioneered the use 
of container unit trains using conventional flatcars in 1979 with its Linertrain service. 
APL. an Oakland-based trans-pacific ocean carrier, began testing a double-stack 
prototype of its own in the summer of 1983 with a combined movement of 19 Southern 
Pacific double-stack cars from Los Angeles to Kansas City and to Chicago via the 
Burlington Northern Railroad. All of the cars, part of APL's Linertrain service from 
Los Angeles, were filled with Asian import containers carried by APL vessels. On the 
backhaul to Los Angeles, most of APL's containers were filled with domestic 
westbound freight to California for customers of Merchant-Stor Dor Freight System 
Inc. of Chicago and Western Carloading Co. Inc. of Los Angeles, both subsidiaries of 
Transway International Corp. of New York with which APL has an agreement for 
domestic freight backhaul forwarding. [Ref 2: p. 30] 

As a precursor to its success with double-stacks, Transway and APL had 
concluded a series of landmark agreements with each other and with the railroads in 
1981 to resolve their own transportation How imbalances and secure certain service 
guarantees. Transway has a preponderance of westbound domestic freight, and APL, 
with 20 cargo vessels in the Pacific, accounts for heavy flows of import cargo from 
Asia which must move cross-countr\' from West Coast ports. This allowed a 
refinement of their cargo balancing programs and has contributed to APL's success 
with its double-stack service by ensuring backhaul utilization. [Ref 2: p. 31] 

In April 1984, APL began replacing its conventional Linertrains of single- 
stacked containers on railroad-owned conventional flatcars with articulated, five-unit 
well cars, owned and managed by APL. The initial investment was for S12 million. By 


n-Lid-l^^S5 further investment shot their total to over S20 million. A concurrent 
reorganization that placed APL subordinate to a new parent. American President 
Company, added American President Intermodal (API), and American President 
Domestic Transportation Company (a combination o[ three former Brae Corp. 
subsidiaries; National Piggyback Services. Inc.. National Piggyback Specialized 
Commodities, and IntermodaL Brokerage Services. Inc.). API owns and controls the 
new equipment and APD is designed to provide westbound shipments in domestic 
containers from the East and Midwest. Westbound Linertrains had been 85 percent 
loaded and risen above 90 percent since. Eastbound. the trains have been 
approximately 98 percent loaded. [Ref 8: p. 62] 

APL's stack cars were introduced by the Budd Co. and redesigned and built by 
the Thrall Car Co. at Chicago Heights, 111. One of APL's five-platform stack cars can 
be seen undergoing loading in Figure 4.1. Initially, the cars held 40-foot containers in 
the wells and 20-foot to 45-foot boxes on top of them, held together by interbox 
connectors (IBC's). The IBCs are clamp devices just like the ones used to securely 
hold containers to each other by their flanges on the weather decks of ocean vessels 
and were chosen to reduce the overall weight oi'^ the stack car. Recent development 
elTorts have resulted in well cars accommodating 45-foot boxes in the well and 48-foot 
domestic containers on top of either 40 or 45-foot boxes. [Ref S: p. 62] 

The light, lloorless cars have American Steel Foundries 70-ton trucks at each 
end. and three American Steel Foundries (ASF) 100-ton trucks in between supporting 
the joinings of units with ASF articulated connectors. A 100-ton ASF truck is shown 
in Figure 4.2. The boxes snuggle into well flanges and the car undersides have six 
inches of clearance above the rail, including allowance for three and one quarter inches 
for wear and spring deflection. There are 20 easily insertable and removable steel 
connectors or IBCs per car that are strong enough to hold stacked containers six high 
onboard ocean vessels. [Ref 8: p. 62] 

Donald C. Orris, currently president of API and formerly vice president-inland 
transportsation services for APL. is credited with fathering the successful introduction 
of double-stacks. Before moving to APL in 1977, Orris was manager of intermodal 
services for the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, where he first proposed that 
onQ box could ride on top of another. Lacking the cooperation of connecting 
railroads, the idea was then shelved. Since, the current development of stack trains 
involved mechanical officers of Union Pacific System, Chicago & North Western, and 
Conrail after APL had taken the initiative. [Ref 8: pp. 62-63] 


Fi2ure 4.1 An APL Double-Stack Railcar. 


Figure 4.2 A 100-Ton ASF Truck. 

Initial service experience with the equipment tied into mile long trains (each 
Thrall car set is 269 feet long) that weigh over 5000 tons loaded was outstanding. 
Minor improvements such as stronger brackets to guide boxes into wells, two full- 
length stringers in the open well-bottoms to protect against floor failure, reinforcing 
plates on intermediate unit side guides, and relocated car-end walkways for yard 
personnel to work further from the open wells, have enhanced the resiliency of the cars. 
End-of-car cushioning with 15-inch-travel gear was found to be unnecessary and a 
switch was made to Cardwell VVestinghouse H60 hydraulic draft gear with three and 
one quarter inches of travel. Early problems with the truck mounted brakes were 
quickly resolved and the Davis Brake Beam Truc-Pac' has been performing well. 
[Ref S: p. 63] 

Managing the logistics for the equipment required unexpected effort. .A.PL 
underestimated the complexity of the operation, which involves coordinating ship 
unloading with train loading on the West Coast, load shuflling at Chicago, and 
unloading on the East Coast, in addition to scheduling of trainsets and flnding 
backhaul loads [Ref S: p. 63]. APL stafl' at Los Angeles. Seattle. Chicago, and New 


York maintain daily contact through three conference calls that involve location, 
quantity, and balancing of containers, chassis, and rolling stock. In addition, computer 
programs help managers develop train consists to prevent clearance and well car 
overload problems. [Ref 9] 

By providing priority scheduling and priority loading and unloading of 
container trains in the railyards, the railroads have achieved an average 53 hour transit 
time from Chicago to Los Angeles and back. C&NW, whose yard at Wood Street has 
been central to feeding of containers between the Los Angeles-Chicago round trips and 
the Chicago-Kearny. New Jersey round trips, was required to make major 
acconunodations to its all-piggyback yard and reserve one of its five Piggy Packer 
loading devices exclusively for APL's double-stack trains. Initially its track sections 
were so short that it could only handle 20 standard Trailer Train flatcars. And 
C&NWs port of entry into Chicago is the Proviso Yard, which required a secondary- 
route of three hours running time to transit to Wood Street. In July 19S5, C&NW 
relocated its piggyback operations a short distance to the Canal Street Yard (formerly 
owned by the Missouri Pacific), making Wood Street an exclusive double-stack faciUty. 
In addition, the adjacent, unused Robey Street Yard was acquired from the Baltimore 
& Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad, thus giving C&XW a total of 110 acres for 
development of its entirely new faciUty, christened Global I, scheduled for completion 
in November 1986. Global I was designed in close cooperation with the steamship 
lines in the realization that the facility will be handling the ocean carriers' trains, 
business, and containers. [Ref 10: p. 33] 


As of 1 May 1986, more than 30 double-stack movements a week including 12 
railroads and 11 steamship lines were in service as illustrated in Figure 4.3. A year 
earlier, in 1985. fewer than half those movements involving only four railroads and two 
vessel operators were in operation. [Ref 11: p. 36] 

Double-stack frequencies var>' from six to one per week. Cars run in solid trains 
or as blocks in solid intermodal trains that generally consist of 20 five-well articulated 
stack cars that hold approximately 200 FEUs, 10 to a car set. Unit trains, however, 
have been assembled to 28 cars in length. With each train towing a capacity almost 
one-half greater than conventional COFC unit trains, speculation abounds concerning 
the service network's continued growth. Domestic containerization may absorb 


Double-Stack Unit Trai 
Main Traffic Flow 


SeaWe/TaeofM .__^ 





"""■""-—— New Yort 


.."" . 



- . 



\ Oakland 



Columbus ; 


/ 1 

^.-"' L 


/ \ SI Inuis ! 





- . 



Cincinnati i 









LxK AngelK 

! 1 ii 

_| New '! 
j Orleans i 


\ \ HOiiSttHi 1 

1 1 

Double-stack operations as of May 1, 1986 

Figure 4.3 Double-Stack Train Main Traffic Flows. 

enough freight in developing fronthaul movements to allow some industrv' optimists to 
speculate that continued growth will cause an increase oi'4() more weekly double-stack 
movements (from 30 currently to 70 per week) by the summer q{ 19S7. [Ref. II: p. 36] 
Making up these new trains are 161 five-unit articulated cars from Thrall and 204 
cars from Gunderson, all owned by Trailer Train; 313 cars from Thrall with 60 more on 
order owned by American President Lines; S3 Gunderson cars with up to SO more on 


order owned by Sea- Land; and 43 early bulkhead units built by ACF (no longer 
manufacturing double-stacks) and owned by Southern Pacific. These figures are from 
mid- April 1986 and have been climbing steadily since. American President and Sea- 
Land both lease to supplement their fleet. The double-stack unit tram main traffic 
flows are depicted in figure . Currently, Sea- Land deploys 163 double-stack cars a 
week. Many of them run in solid trains making a "huge figure eight" with Los Angeles 
and Tacoma on one side, Chicago in the middle, and Little Ferry, New Jersey, on the 
other side, with both Tacoma and Little Ferry being Sea- Land operated terminals. For 
Sea-Land moves from Tacoma. Burlington Northern (BN) is the carrier, while Santa Fe 
handles them from Los Angeles. At Avard, Oklahoma, Santa Fe delivers a block to 
BN for movement to the Southeast through Memphis. In Chicago, Santa Fe and BN 
turn over their Sea- Land traffic to Chessie, which delivers it to the Delaware & Hudson 
(D&H) at Buffalo. D&H moves it on to Binghampton, New York, where the New 
York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad takes over for the run to Little Fern.'. Sea- 
Land also uses SP for a Los Angeles-New Orleans movement. American President 
reUes on UP, C&NW, and Conrail (CR) for double-stack movements from the West 
Coast to South Kearny, N.J. To Jersey City, Conrail handles Vlaersk and K Line 
double-stacks originating on the West Coast and moving to Chicago over UP and 
C&NW. Conrail, as of April 1986, had spent S10.8 million to raise clearances on its 
water-level route alone. [Ref 11: pp. 38-39] 

Conrail also handles a double-stack Mitsui move to Columbus. Ohio. This 
traffic originates at Los Angeles as a solid train handled by SP. At St. Louis, the 
Illinois Central Gulf Railroad takes a block for delivery to Chicago, and CR takes the 
rest to Columbus. The double-stack Mitsui traffic reaches Columbus mixed with 
single-stack cars in all intermodal trains in furtherance of Conrail's policy of combining 
stack traffic with other intermodal business or several steamship line's business into 
one stack train whenever the volume of one ocean carrier is insufficient to warrant a 
full double-stack train. On the eastern fringe of Conrail's ex-Pennsy Chicago-New 
York route, clearances prohibit stacks, thereby requiring a breakdown of 
Seattle/Tacoma originated double-stack containers. At Chicago, these loads are drayed 
between BN and Conrail and U.S. Lines stack traffic from Oakland also is broken 
down. [Ref 11: p. 39] 

As more and more high-value retail merchandise freight finds its way into 
domestic containers, the double-stack network is bound to expand further. The current 


fad craze that stack trains are enjoying is luring many new customers to experiment, 
such as North Carolina furniture makers, appliance manufacturers, and so forth. This 
may lead to a permanent growth or a later retrenchment if service standards fail to 
meet expectations of first time rail customers. Also, high density, or weight-limited 
goods should soon be accommodated upon completion of testing and production of a 
successful stand-alone car that, with heavier tonnage douhle-axle trucks, can reach 
container weight load limits. With this equipment eventually in place, the outer 
envelope of containerizable cargo can be reached with double-stack train service. It 
will then only be a question of how rigorously the other nodes of the intermodal 
system are developed and how creatively the new equipment is managed and the 
service is marketed. 




Articulated well railcars capable of transporting one container on top of another 
represent a technological breakthrough in design. Without the limitations that 
conventional railcar construction impose upon designers seeking strength and 
durability that the traditional heavy. soUd railroad cars provide, computer assisted 
designers at the Budd Co. and Gunderson Inc. have developed two competing space- 
aged "drop-frame" flatcars that incorporate tremendous weight and rolling resistance 
gains over conventional COFC equipment. A third manufacturer, ACF Industries, 
Inc., actually provided the first examples of double-stack equipment to Southern 
Pacific in 1981. However, the failure of the Southern Pacific design to substantially 
reduce tare weight prevented significant economic advantages from materializing and 
limited its impact upon the COFC market. [Ref 4: p. 46] 

The two successful manufacturers of stack train rolling stock essentially have 
split the market evenly. The Budd Co. designed car is marketed as the LOPAC 2000 
by the Thrall Car Manufacturing Company of Chicago Heights, Illinois (full address: 
P.O.Box 218, Chicago Heights, Illinois 60411; phone 312,757-5900) and has undergone 
several design improvements since inception of service with APL in April 1984. The 
more recent competition, Gunderson Inc. of Portland Oregon, entered the business on 
1 March 1985 and has experienced an immediate flurry of orders (4350 N.W. Front 
Avenue, Portland, Oregon, 97210; phone 503/228-9281). [Ref 11: p. 38] 

The intent is to fully and accurately describe both manufacturer's equipment 
offerings, including the advantages and disadvantages touted by each builder. 
However, no inference is made concluding that one design is to be promoted as better 
than the other in this thesis. Descriptions of one car's benefits over the other have 
been, for the most part, provided by the vendors, and that should be kept in mind as 
this chapter is reviewed. 

There are a number of similarities in the railcars ofTered by these manufacturers. 
Both designs involve a five-platform configuration to make up one railcar. These 
platforms are joined by semipermanent connectors that tremendously reduce the slack 
typically found between railroad cars. The platform sets incorporate eight fewer axles 


per set. 12 total versus 20 for five conventional flatcars [Ref. 12: p. 2-3]. Both platform 
types use "drop-frame" construction with open wells reinforced with stringers for 
weight savings. The 12 axle positions are clearly illustrated in the drawing of a 
complete Gunderson railcar set in Figure 5.1. The open well designs of both car types 
can be compared in Figure 5.2 and Figure 5.3. 

One key diObrence between Thrall cars and those of Gunderson is the means by 
which the upper container is secured. Similar to the first stack train designs built by 
ACF. Gunderson cars feature bulkheads at the end of each articulated unit, thereby 
eliminating the need for interbox connectors used in the Thrall units. Both bulkheads 
and interbox connectors retain the top containers in place satisfactorily. The bulkhead 
cars are slightly heavier than the IBC cars but allow the containers to be positioned 
onto the car by a crane operator without the assistance of ground personnel that are 
necessary for the IBC equipped car in order to remove IBC clamps to securely anchor 
the top box at loading. Illustrations of the two car types clearly show the dilTerence in 
design. [Ref 11: p. 38] 

Both manufacturers have made slight improvements in their designs and. notably 
in Thralls literature, slight variations in dimension and tow weight are noted in their 
descriptions of the 40-foot well platform, 45-foot well platform, and for both 
manufacturers comparing end platforms with center platforms [Ref 13: p. Ij. 
Generally, Gunderson's Twin-Stack car is 265 feet 1 1 2 inches in length and 9 feet 1 1 
12 inches wide. The height from the rail to the bottom of the platform (empty) is 8 
1 2 inches. The height of two empty 9-foot 6-inch super-cube containers is 19-feet 11 
1 2 inches from the rail and loaded 19 feet 9 3 4 inches. To insure clearance for 20 
foot right-of-ways, a standard height 8-foot 6-inch or 9-foot high container must be 
mixed in for safe transit. The Twin-Stack railcar is shown completing a loading 
operation in Figure 5.4. [Ref 12: p. 4] 

The Thrall car, in comparison is 291 feet 1 12 inches in length and has an inside 
width of well of 8-feet 1/2 inch. Its height from the rail to the bottom of car sill is 9 
1 4 inches. Its total height from the rail with two super-cube containers is then 19 feet 
9 1 4 inches empty, very similar in repects to the Gunderson car. The nominal 
capacity per platform is 101.500 pounds. The estimated tow weight per platform is 
32,400 pounds. [Ref 14: p. 1] 























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Figure 5.1 Gunderson Five-Platform Railcar Set. 


Figure 5.2 View ofGunderson Railcar's Open Well. 


Figure 5.3 View of Thrall Railcar's Open Well. 


1. Longitudinal 

There are three basic types of movement that are seen in rail transportation; 
longitudinal, lateral, and vertical. APL offers a brief explanation of the benefits oi' 
their car (and. one would think, similarly equipped cars) in reducing the movement and 
forces in each ol' these directions as compared to movement on conventional 
intermodal cars. An understanding of these dynamic forces allows a better insight for 
the prospective customer when examining the new stack train rolling stock. [Ref 15] 

Longitudinal movement is created in switching rail cars for train make up and 
may occur at intermediate locations from the rail origin and destination when 
conventional cars are added. This also occurs due to the run-in and run-out of trains 
while they are in transit. This run-in and run-out is created due to standard intermodal 
rail cars having 15-inch end-of-car cushioning at the ends of each car consequeuntly. 
when the train is going downhill, it will contract so that nearly all of this extension is 
gone. This force is also seen when the train engineer is braking the train with the 
locomotive onlv rather than usine the brakes on the rail cars. This is normallv called 


Fieure 5.4 The Gunderson Twin-Stack Railcar. 


dynamic braking and causes the train to contract when braking. If the engineer is not 
careful this contraction can be rapid and can create fairly significant logitudinal forces. 

The normal size standard intermodal train is approximately 50 cars. In 
theory, at this size of train it is possible to see 125 feet of slack action when the end of 
car cushioning goes from the fully extended to the fully contracted position. 

APL's (and Gundersons) rail cars used in the stack train service are five- 
platform articulated rail cars. The articulated connection, which takes place at the 
intermediate ends of each platform is a fixed semi-permanent attachment. There is no 
slack to speak of at these locations. At the end of each car is 15-inch end-of-car 
cushioning (since changed to Cordwell Westinghouse H60 hydraulic draft gear with 
only 3 i 4 inches of travel.) The stack trains are normally operated with 20 of these 
five-platform articulated cars. In comparison to the standard intermodal train, these 
double-stack trains only have a theoretical slack distance of 50 feet. This significantly 
reduced slack distance also retards the longitudinal forces seen while trains are in 

2. APL Innovation 

Recognizing that longitudinal forces created by run-in and run-out in train 
service can be a primary cause of lading damage during rail transportation, APL went 
one step further. The end of car cushioning is created by hydraulic fluid being 
transferred from one chamber to the next through 12 ports (or holes). Lock-out valves 
have been installed in 10 of these 12 ports which significantly reduces the flow of the 
hydraulic Ouid between the chambers at low forces as experienced during in-train 
service created by the run-in and run-out of slack action. These valves make the end 
of car cushioning much stiller at the lower forces and allows the run-in and run-out to 
be much slower and controlled as opposed to being relatively free and sloppy which 
can create quite a jarring elTect at the ends of the travel of the end of car cushioning. 
The valves, on the other hand, will open up at higher impact forces which might be 
seen in train make up or while switching and allows the end of car cushioning to work 
as intended. To the best of their knowledge, the APL stack cars are only the second 
application of these valves in rail cars, due in large part to the expense of having them 
installed. Their use is widely recognized as an effort to reduce longitudinal forces 
created bv slack action. 


3. Rolling Movement 

There is a rolling movement, known as lateral movement which is common in 
rail transportation and is created by the variation in height from one side of the track 
compared to the other side. In any rail service there is naturally a certain amount of 
roll that takes place. APL's stack train rail car. because of its articulated connectors at 
the intermediate ends of the platforms, significantly reduces this rolling movement as 
one platform rolls one direction and next one is rolling the opposite direction and the 
result is that the platforms counteract each other and tend to dampen the rolling eflect. 
This is a condition that is well known for any articulated rail car design and does not 
apply specifically to APL's cars. 

Results of tests performed at the Transportation Test Center in Pueblo. 
Colorado over the rock and roll section of trackage were very impressive. The car was 
loaded in a worst case configuration which had every other platform loaded to a very 
high combined center of gravity with the alternate platform loaded to a low center of 

In this manner it was thought that the heavier and higher center of gravity 
platforms would not be affected as much by the lower center of gravity and lighter 
loaded platforms and, as a result, a higher degree of roll would result. Even under this 
severe condition the rolling movement was minimal. 

4. Vertical Movement 

Insofar as vertical movement of rail cars is concerned, no data are available 
for conventional flatcars to allow comparison with articulated stack cars. It is 
believed, however, by APL that a stack car would create a superior ride because the 
truck centers are 50 feet 6 inches and standard intermodal rail car truck centers are 
approximately SO feet. This plus the reduced camber in the car body on APL cars 
should minimize the vertical accelerations or bouncing. 


Gunderson, Inc. has had some media exposure and serves as a convenient 
example from which to sketch an industry profile. A member of the Greenbriar 
Leasing Corporation, which includes the subsidiaries Greenbrier Intermodal, 
Greenbrier Capital, and Gunderson, Inc., produced 1450 container carrying platforms 
in 1985 since its startup March 1 and purchase of FMC Corp's Marine and Rail 
Equipment Division in Portland, Oregon. An advantage is the fact that Gunderson's 


fellow subsidiary, Greenbriar Intermodal. is dedicated to developing the market for the 
Twin-Stack container rail car. having had total sales for the period exceeding S45 
million. Located along the Willamette River in Portland. Gunderson's 75 acre facility 
has 750.000 square feet of manufacturing space and a capacity of 6.000 cars per year. 
Greenbriar Leasing was Gunderson's first Twin-Stack customer for 100 platforms. 
These were, in turn, provided under short term lease to Burlington Northern and Sea- 
Land. Greenbriar also uses their cars as marketing tools to aquaint prospective 
customers with Twin-Stack performance. At its peak backlog last summer. Gunderson 
was constructing Twin-Stack cars at the rate of 12 platforms per day to meet early 
delivery schedules required by customers anxious to implement or expand their double- 
stack transportation programs. [Ref 16: pp. 30,32] 


1. Similarities 

As previously mentioned, the primary difference between the Thrall car and 
the Gunderson car is the use of IBC's and bulkheads, respectively, for holding the top 
containers in place. Since both cars are reasonably close in dimension (with some 
length and aerodynamic considerations addressed later), load bearing capacity, and 
adaptability to all container sizes (20. 40, 45. 48-foot), the two different container 
restraining systems bear further attention. 

2. Groundsmen 

An Arthur D. Little. Inc. study dated March 7. 1986 and commissioned by 
Greenbriar ofTers an examination of the difierences between car types [Ref 17: pp. 1-S]. 
The source of their study consisted of observations made at ten terminal locations, two 
operating only IBC cars, seven operating only bulkhead cars, and one operating both. 
Loading and unloading operations were observed. Groundsmen were employed at 80 
per cent of observed double-stack terminal operations that included all IBC car 
operations and five of eight bulkhead car operations. These goundsmen are essential 
for operating the IBC car because the top containers on these cars must be secured by 
four inter-box connecting devices, and groundmen are required to manually install, 
lock, unlock, and remove the IBCs at the corners of the bottom box. The groundsmen 
are not required for bulkhead car operation. At the five bulkhead car operations. 
Arthur D. Little. Inc. reports that they were there due to work rules or because they 
were working on other conventional equipment. The number of groundsmen used with 


the one IBC car ranges from one to three per crew. Potential cost savings due to the 
extra crewniens' wages and reduced liabiUty were noted. The actual figures noted by 
Arthur D. Little are omitted here because, without more complete cost data for other 
areas of operation and exact equipment purchase prices, listing partial data to promote 
a particular vendor's equipment would be unfair. 

3. Theft Protection 

The study further notes that the issue of protection from container theft was 
repeatedly raised in their interviews. When containers are placed on a bulkhead 
equipped car, the container doors become very dilTicult to break open because of the 
presence of bulkheads and Oippers (needed as spacers to accomodate difierent 
container lengths with one car size). With the IBC equipped car. it was noted, the 
platform used by groundmen in loading and unloading is also convenient for thiefs and 
vandals in removing lading. There are no bulkheads to protect the container doors 
from being opened. Their report notes that the assistant terminal manager of a 
Chicago terminal cites weekly break-ins. while terminals using bulkhead cars reported 
little or no theft, largely attributed to the bulkheads. 

4. Cycle Loading 

A new type of container loading and unloading technique has been linked to 
car type as well. Cycle loading is claimed to significantly enhance the value of double- 
stack cars. After initial unloading to create space, each platform level (both upper and 
lower) is unloaded and then the same platform is reloaded again, as equipment is 
moved rapidly down a block-loaded train. The conventional loading unloading method 
requires that the entire train is first stripped prior to any reloading. Loader crews 
travel twice the distance as they have to traverse the entire length of the train to 
reload, a considerable distance when contemplating mile-long stack trains. In cycle 
loading, chassis are never empty, and only slightly more than half the number of 
chassis and drays required for conventional loading are used. This is a critical 
consideration in maintaining tight chassis pool management and aids in the balancing 
of available chassis. Cycle loading can be used with both IBC and bulkhead cars, 
resulting in lower costs for the steamship lines. However, Arthur D. Little. Inc. found 
that terminal operators are not cycle loading with the IBC car. ostensibly because cycle 
loading was found not to be as cost elTective using IBC railcars. This conclusion was 
unsubstantiated in the report and. therefore, may be discounted as the conclusive 
reason for not cycle loading IBC equipped railcars. In conclusion, it was found from 


the study that the bulkhead car eHminates ground personnel costs, reduces exposure to 
liability, minimizes the liklihood of pilferage, and is more cost eflectively utilized 
through cycle loading. 


1. Fuel Consumption 

The next area for review concerns double-stack equipment line-haul operating 
efTiciency. Several recent studies warrant mention. The first, by John H. Williams and 
Judith II. Roberts of the Woodside Consulting Group, generated comparative data 
between hypothetical intermodal runs from Los Angeles to Chicago for double-stack 
equipment, conventional COFC, TOFC, and trailer and container-on-lightweight car 
utilizing a computerized rail cost model to determine each of the variable operating 
costs. Fuel consumption was shown to be 32 percent of over-the-road truck fuel 
consumption, 16 percent better than conventional COFC and 12 percent better than 
lightweight COFC {lightweight COFC/TOFC represent the new skeletonized ultralight 
single container or trailer on llatcar technology). Double-stack rail service was also 
found to be competitive in total trip time. 53 hours (includes loading unloading) versus 
50.3 hours for over-the-road truck. Without unnecessary detail, primar\' cost 
components for double-stacks were found to be 59 percent of total conventional COFC 
costs. The study concluded that, as service speed had become competitive with over- 
the-road truck, COFC double-stack service can elTectively divert a greater share of the 
truck freight market. Although actual costs in cents per mile were not shown in this 
study they will be addressed at a later chapter. [Ref. 18: pp. 242-248] 

2. Streamlining, Weight Reduction, and Articulation 

Also of interest is the elTect streamlining, weight reduction, and articulation 
have upon train sets of intermodal cars and how much double-stack cars have 
advanced in fuel savings as a result of each factor. A study Fuel Use Simulations of 
High Productivity Container Trains by Daniel S. Smith of Manalytics. Inc., has taken 
an engineered rail cost model (RCM) to estimate round trip fuel consumption for 
existing double-stack container trains and hypothetical integral intermodal trains 
between Los Angeles and Chicago [Ref 19: pp. 236-241]. The observations and 
conclusions reached concerning double-stack train design and the efTiciency value of 
each type of improvement are of greatest concern. The base case selected for the 
analysis was a double-stack, cabooseless container train similar to those in use by 


American President Lines and Sea-Land Service, i.e., the Thrall and Gunderson cars 
respectively. The base case train consisted of 20 cars, each composed of five 
articulated platforms or wells carrying stacked 45-root marine containers. Platform 
tare was set at 2S.000 pounds, container tare at 8.550 pounds each, and lading at the 
average highway load restriction load limit of 43.000 pounds each. The total loaded 
car. therefore, came to 131.000 pounds with two stacked 45-foot containers. The 
net tare ratio, by the way. is an impressive 86,000 45,100 or 1.91. as compared to a 
conventional piggyback net/tare ratio of just .67. Model runs were made by changing 
one factor and holding the others constant. One pass was used to guage the influence 
of articulating the entire train (as if the whole train were one car) saving one truck per 
car or a total of 20 trucks per train. One run was conducted just to show the effects of 
streamlining by using an equation coelHcient simulating trailing cars in a passenger 
train. This was compared to a base case coefficient that represents boxcar wind 
resistance as no coefficient has been scientifically developed for stack trains and. 
logically, loaded stack train cars most closely simulate boxcars. The impact on tare 
weight was analyzed by comparing the 28,000 pound current double-stack conventional 
average with a 23,000 and 18,000 pound theoretically improved car model. Other runs 
were made with integration of motive power (power units on platforms instead of 
separate conventional locomotives) and multiple combinations of the aforementioned 

The results were as expected. Car weight had the greatest impact (3.6 percent 
fuel saved), followed by streamlining (I.l percent), and lastly, full articulation, 
contributing only .7 percent fuel savings. The actual percentages are valuable in that 
they can be compared to each other to see how much each contributed relative to fuel 
savings. The actual numbers are meaningless in this thesis, however, for determining 
fuel savings of double-stacks vis-a-vis conventional COFC since the computer runs 
were designed to determine how much further an integral train would benefit fuel 
savings beyond a base case stack train. The eflect of integration or articulation which 
reduced the number of axles was ver\' small. The savings accrued through streamlining 
were equally modest. The effect of streamlining varies with the square of velocity. The 
base case and streamlined trains were modelled averaging 48 to 49 MPM when moving. 
Speed limits varied between 50 and 70 MPH, depending on terrain, but the train did 
not always reach the limit when running upgrade. Also, some railroads have restricted 
double-stack trains to 60 .MPH due to their high gross weight per operating brake. If 


the average speed were raised to 60 MPH. according to Mr. Smith, air resistance would 
increase by 53 percent and streamlining would be more important. 

One conclusion that this study has made clear is that double-stack container 
trains are dominated by their loads. The containers and lading account for 85 percent 
of the weight and 92 percent of the air resistance in the lightest-car model (IS,0(.)0 
pound tare). The requirements for motive power are determined by the train's load, 
not its tare. In fact, the double-stack, car design is already so spartan that its sole 
function is to keep the containers over the railroad wheels and connected together in a 
train. It offers no protection from the elements, and no support or containment for 
the lading itself. Aside from some additional minor weight savings, it seems reasonable 
to conclude that the double-stack equipment currently being oOered represents a new 
constant in efficiency that will set a benchmark for the industry. 
3. Streamlining Improvements 

Although the paring of tare weight from stack car designs has nearly reached 
its practical limit, further efforts are still underway to squeeze more fuel efficiency from 
streamlining. Airflow Sciences Corporation of Livonia, Vlichigan has performed wind 
tunnel tests with scale models of Gunderson's Twin-Stack articulated well cars that 
have measured air resistance to their standard units as well as to modified units with 
the addition of thick and thin spacer blocks attached to the tops of the bulkheads to 
reduce the between car voids and associated wind turbulance. [Ref 20: pp. 1-4] 

Wind tunnel work at Lockheed-Georgia in 1983 found that, for well cars 
carrying containers, the size of the gap between loads on adjacent cars was the major 
variable. Streamlining of the containers themselves was shown to be o[ minor 
significance. At 60 MPH, a sharp break in resistance occured between gaps of 75 and 
45 inches, with the reduced gap lowering air resistance by as much as 50 percent. The 
wheelbase of a standard 100-ton truck is 70 inches. Therefore, containers in articulated 
well-type cars cannot be closer than about 100 inches, especially if both upper and 
lower containers are the same length. Reduction or virtual elimination of this gap with 
filler IS the aim of the thick block thin sheet experiments at Airflow Sciences Corp. 

The testing was accomplished assuming an average yaw angle of five degrees 
to simulate typical cross-wind conditions. Base on a study by Dr. Frank Buckley of 
the University of Maryland, it was concluded that five degrees is a representative 
average yaw angle for vehicles travelling at 55 MPH in the continental United States. 
The tests were performed upon scale models at 120 MPH winds which translated to 


true scale speeds of 19.2 MPH. Three car arrangements were used to allow the fore 
and aft cars to produce a first-order representation of the remaining train's interference 
elTect. Data were also compared to a 1983 Thrall car test at Lockheed using 30 
percent scale models. Conversion calculations were performed to align their data to 
parallel the 16 percent Airflow Sciences Corp. tests. 

The drag area between end-of-car units was found to be more than double the 
drag area between intermediate articulated units (45.8 square feet versus 21.5 square 
feet). The diflerence was due to the increased gap distance between 40-foot container 
faces. Between intermediate units, a gap distance of 10 feet exists between 40-foot 
container faces whereas, between end units, a gap distance as large as 25 foot e.\ists. 

The estimated drag area for a five-platform Thrall car (as converted from the 
1983 test) is 166.7 square feet. 26 percent greater than the Twin-Stack car without 
aerodynamic modification (131.8 square feet) and 77 percent greater than the Twin- 
Stack's best aerodynamic modification for 45-foot containers (93.9 square feet). 

Drawbar force calculations utilizing car weights of 31,000 pounds for the 
Thrall car. 35.000 pounds for the Twin-Stack without aero, and 36,000 pounds for the 
Twin-Stack with aero modification reveal almost equal drawbar pull at 40 MPH 
between the Thrall and Twin-Stack cars (1620 pounds versus 1507 pounds) but a 
quickly growing advantage for the Gunderson car at 60 MPII due to the apparent 
advantages of reduced air turbulance between container platforms (Twin Stack 2181 
pounds versus Thrall car 2472 pounds). 

Using an equation to determine gallons of fuel consumed per 100,000 miles 
that takes into account the drag area variations and a function for fuel use in hill 
climbing, braking, and acceleration, Airfiow Sciences Corp. determined that at 60 MPH 
a Twin-Stack car would require 53,520 gallons per 100,000 miles whereas a Thrall car 
would use 59.160 gallons, or an increase of 5.640 gallons per car. The 45-foot 
aerodynamic modifications would enhance fuel savings by an amazing 6.870 additional 
gallons, or 46.650 gallons total. Considering the earlier work by Manalytics in 
highlighting the emphasis car weight appeared to have over the efiects of streamlining, 
the difference in car weight of 4.000 pounds (31.000 pounds for the Thrall car versus 
35.000 pounds for the Twin-Stack) apparently did not infiuence the Airfiow Sciences 
Corp.'s calculations as much as expected. However incredulous one may be of the 
results the wind tunnel rests also ascertain the value of streamlining at higher speeds 
and the potential for improvement that the Gunderson car has in that area. 



Over the near horizan, car manufacturers and marketing leasing firms are keenly 
examining the development of "stand-alone" well cars designed to couple platform to 
platform without articulation. The primary motivation for this last area of opportunity 
is to enable carriers to haul two weighed-out containers at the same time. Present well 
car load limits either require cutting oiY loading containers to their hmits of about 
67.U00 pounds or mixing one light' and one heaw' container per platform (as most 
current loading procedures call for) to prevent overstressing. As aggressive marketing 
of double-stack service seeks to attract the weight-limited commodity groups such as 
canned goods, wine, dry prepared foods, and so forth, carriers will want to be ready to 
ofTer this service safely. As top loads of domestic 48-foot boxes become more popular, 
weight limitations will more readily present themselves. Trailer Train has developed 
designs for three dilTerent stand-alone double-stack cars capable of handling two 
48-foot containers. [Ref 21: p. 22J 

Thrall Car Manufacturing Company has delivered the first prototype to undergo 
static, dynamic, and field testing at Hammond. Indiana, and at the Transportation Test 
Center at Pueblo. Colorado. It is expected for the wells to permit load limits above 
135.000 pounds. The lightweight trucks of the first prototype are a frame structure 
guiding two single axles under each end of the car. By letting the axles support the car 
at the sides instead of through a center pin. stability should be improved. The axles 
are 32 inches apart and carry 28 inch wheels. Swing hangars and leaf springs are used 
as suspension, and a damper spring or hydraulic device will be used to control 'truck 
hunting' (the phenomenon in which the slack between the wheel flanges and track 
width allow the truck to twist as it is guided down the track). The first prototype uses 
15-inch end-of-car cushioning and comes in at a tare weight of 50.000 pounds (possibly 
cut to 45.000 pounds with some design modifications). The first and second prototype 
car use IBCs. with a third to use bulkheads. [Ref 21: p. 22] 


One very important issue of industry-wide concern to the railroads is the 
potential for accelerated track wear or even damage posed by the introduction and 
widespread use of heavy load-bearing stand-alone stack cars. Time was when the 
movement of 79,000-pound-per-axle equipment was confined to isolated unit coal 
operations which could be safely ignored with respect to potential for widespread 


uncontrolled use. Bui with 40-root double-stacked containers, each loaded to its 67.000 
pound maximum cargo, the load on one truck (including tare) would be over 168,000 
pounds (articulated unit), equivalent to a load of 330.000 pounds on a four-axle car 
and well over the 125-ton capacity hea%w coal cars presently in limited route use. 
Further. 20-foot containers could be loaded to 52.S00 pounds. If four were seated on 
an intermediate platform of a five-unit articulated car the total load would be 
241.200-pounds on one truck, the same as over 480,000-pounds on four axles and far 
beyond any railroad's experience. If load-capable stack cars are fitted with 125-ton 
trucks, that possibility could be achieved. [Ref 22: p. 39] 

One example of long-term hea\w equipment use is that of Detroit Edison's unit 
train operations on Conrail's Waynesburg Southern Une of the Monongahela Railway. 
Since 1969. steady use of their 125-ton capacity coal hoppers has led Conrail to 
determine that rail life was reduced two to seven times what it would have been under 
normal 100-ton car operations. Only by installing a premium class of track and 
instituting a high level of inspection has the use of this captive equipment become 
feasible. [Ref 22: p. 39] 

The rail deterioration apparently stems from fatigue rather than wear, in which a 
'nominal' increase in wheel load produces a ver\" large reduction in rail life owing to the 
highly elastic character of the fatigue factor. Below 28.000-pound axle loads (80-ton 
car), rail life is determined by wear life (i.e.. 1100 million gross tons (MGTs) at 
2S.000-pounds and not much higher as loads drop). Above 2S.000-pound axle loads 
(greater than SO-ton cars), rail life is determined by fatigue (i.e.. rail life drops rapidly 
with little increase in axle loads as. for example. 33,000-pound axle load (100-ton car) 
fatigues rail after just 300 MGTs). [Ref 22: p. 40] 

The quick answer to head oiT such decHne would be to use heat-treated, special 
metallurgy rail in the relevant stretches together with the newer profiling techniques of 
the rail head that maintain centered wheel loads. These approaches, however, will not 
protect track structures against fast deterioration, where in isolated cases, it has been 
estimated that bridge life has been reduced from decades to less than 20 years due only 
to the effect of higher wheel loadings. [Ref 22: p. 40] 

The rail life issue should promise to add a measure of complexity to the evolution 
of the next generation of double-stack rail equipment insofar as it will bring the 
railroads, interested in preserving their track and not investing heavily in upgrading 
their entire network, into conilict with the ocean carriers, hell-bent on squeezing 
maximum etliciency out of their contracted overland rail partners. 


The exempt rail transportation agreement is the legal precedent upon which the 
economic vitality o[ the new ocean carrier-double-stack-rail intermodal organization is 
founded. Without this cooperative agreement, the many traditional encumbrances 
previously sacrosant in interstate commerce regulation would have prevented either 
mode of carrier from taking advantage of the efficiencies inherent therein. 

Proprietary data rights prevent pubUshing the actual carrier's names in the 
analysis of the following recently negotiated contract between an ocean carrier and 
several railroads. Close inspection of a typical steamship line/railroad contract 
provides significant insight into the parameters that mold the scheduling, frequency, 
and management of the double-stack service network. 

The railroads have agreed to provide round trip rail transportation of loaded or 
empty containers ("or empty" i.e., no loading of cargo at the convenience of the rail 
carrier without control of the ocean carrier) between major listed cities. Such round 
trip shipments shall move in multiplatform railcar trains ("multiplatform railcar" 
spcifically demanded, implying expedited handling of containers in express, tightly 
coordinated unit trains as associated with that equipment). [Ref 6: p. 1] 

The transportation services are provided by the railroads in exchange for a 
commitment by the ocean carrier to tender certain minimum numbers of round trip 
movements for linehaul via the railroads and pay the taritT schedules hsted in the 
contract. Tendering of the minimum volume is considered a material consideration and 
inducement, without which the railroads would not agree to give up their marketing 
rights to a large volume of container cubes traveling over their rails. [Ref 6: p. I] 

In addition to rail linehaul services, the railroads agree to load onto, secure, and 
unload from multiplatform railcars the ocean carrier's containers. Any paperwork and 
terminal movement of containers will also be handled by the railroads. [Ref 6: pp. 2-3] 

The railroad shall furnish the ocean carrier a specified quantity of multiplatform 
railcars built for Trailer Train and assigned to that railroad. Mileage and car hire 
charges are to be paid by the ocean carrier to the railroad for the railroad's use in 
hauling the ocean carrier's containers. However, should the ocean carrier's volumes of 
traffic tendered fall below contract minimum or should the ocean carrier terminate the 


contract prior to the agreed upon termination date, the ocean carrier shall be liable for 
all car hire charges up to the previously agreed upon contract termination date, with 
credit applied toward the account for any alternative use the railroads or Trailer Train 
can find for the cars (this means that the ocean carrier is liable for the rental of the 
railcar equipment at onset of the contract through termination regardless of outcome, 
freeing the railroads from any financial risk whatsoever in this venture). [Ref. 6: pp. 

Additionally, the ocean carrier must tender the railroad cars to the railroads for a 
minimum of 45 round trips per twelve month period or be subject to a "shortage" 
charge for not allowing the railroads to meet the minimum transportation requirement. 
[Ref. 6: p. 4] 

In exchange for the rail transportation furnished by the railroads under the 
agreement, the ocean carrier shall pay a rate per round trip per multiplatform railcar 
based on 100 percent loaded containers eastbound and percent loaded containers 
westbound with small additive charges assessed for westbound loaded containers. 
These rates are then escalated based upon price indexes for fuel and non-fuel, wages, 
wage supplements, materials and supplies, and other operating expenses. [Refi 6: pp. 

Under deregulation, the terms of the agreements and the rates are considered 
confidential between negotiating parties. The same ocean carrier can, therefore, 
earnestly negotiate with each regional rail carrier for the most favorable provisions and 
rates. This leads to one carrier paying difierent rates and working within differing sets 
of restrictions with each participating rail carrier. 

It appears, then, that the railroads have essentially traded their control of 
marketing the cube of available empty containers directly to retail customers in 
exchange for a no-risk multiplatform railcar hauling contract for transporting their (i.e.. 
ocean carriers') containers. Given that a particular railroad's organization has a finite 
capacity for engaging in business activity, the decision to concentrate on fixed fee 
contracts with ocean carriers has signaled a migration in strategy from a competitive, 
high-risk, value-of-goods pricing scheme in the retail marketing of transportation 
services to a relatively low-risk environment involving wholesale marketing of 
transportation services at a fi.xed return. The railroads involving themselves heavily in 
steamship line contracts, therefore, have given up the opportunity' for large profits 
(which the railroads haven't seen since carpetbagger days an>"way) in exchange for 
guaranteed volume and a reasonable profit. 


1 he ocean carrier has gained a measure of control and influence over the rail 
carrier that enables the steamship Une to influence the manner in which the rail carriers 
handle their containers in their yards and how they prioritize their train schedules to 
meet vessel sailings. In this way, for a certain fixed profit, the railroads become an 
arm. albeit loosely afliliated. of the ocean carrier. 




In conjunction with researching the development and make-up of double-stack 
container train service, an opinion survey of personnel at the Military Traffic 
Management Command-Western Area's (MTVIC-WA) Military Export Cargo Offering 
Booking Office, the MiUtary Sealift Command- Pacific's (MSC-PAC) Contracting 
Office, and American President Line's military cargo sales representative, revealed that 
intermodal container rates, as provided for the military shipper in the MSC Container 
Agreement & Rate Guide, had not changed significantly as a result of the introduction 
of double-stack train service. Military cargo being primarily vverstbound for export to 
overseas bases, the container space had been and continues to be priced at or near 
marginal costs (floor price that co\ers only variable costs). Furthermore, the 
depressing effect upon rates of the ongoing excess of Pacific Basin container service has 
had an overshadowing effect on any potential impact that stack train economics may 
have had. The result, therefore, is that personnel working with the Container Rate 
Guide have noticed no drop in rates due to introduction of double-stack train service. 


Military service applications of double-stack technology are awaiting a rigorous 
comparison of the stack car's unique features with the military service's peacetime and 
mobilization requirements. Although the primar\' force behind its development was 
efficient and economic bulk transport of containers, certain features, such as the car's 
shorter length over conventional flatcars that carry two containers end to end, may 
allow stack cars to perform military missions. Perhaps during a mobilization scenario, 
a certain port's yard space would not have allowed two hundred containers carried 
conventionally to be offloaded from two long trains at once. But a single stack train 
would concentrate more containers to be offioaded per section of pier apron and help 
widen a logistics bottleneck. 

Unique features, such as the Gunderson car's Twin-Stack bulkheads, would make 
containerized ammunition shipments more pilfer proof, for example. The MiUtan." 
Tralfic .Management Command's (MTMC) Transportation Engineering Agency (TEA) 
in Newport News, Virginia has been commissioned to study the impact of double- 


stacking railcars on the defense transportation system. The study will also determine 
optimal utilization of double-stacking railcars for militar}' applications. 




The issue of terminal efficiency has been raised by the double-stack train's 
increased ability to dump large volumes of containers into a rail or marine yard at one 
time. An examination of the issues and developments in rail and marine terminal 
design are valuable at this point. 

1. Global I 

First, the issues related to development of the intermodal container system will 
be discussed. Global I, as mentioned in Chapter IV, is the Chicago & North Western 
Railroad's new double-stack-only railroad container trani handling facility located at 
the former Wood Street and Robey Street Yards. Named Global I in recognition of 
the international cargo movement through the yard, the railroads have been coming to 
the realization that, with the current state of atfairs, even the Chicago facility is 
nothing more than an extension of an ocean carrier's turning basin for containers. 
Steamship lines were consulted to aid in the most eflicient design of the ultramodern 
facility. [Ref 10: pp. 32-33] 

Inno\ative track configuration is central to the yard's operation. Having three 
parallel tracks will simplify the unloading of double-stack trains through a process 
called "stop and swap" as illustrated in Figure 8.1. With a double-stack train on the 
middle track, and conventional TOFC cars on the two tracks alongside, containers can 
be transferred from the double-stack track to the other trains with a minimal amount 
o[ handhng. An overhead crane, with an inside clearance of 66 feet, will straddle the 
three tracks, as well as one chassis lane on each side. It can transfer containers from 
the stack train onto chassis, either for road deUvery or to be placed on one of the 
TOFC cars for rail delivery. [Ref 10: p. 33] 

Roughly 30 percent of the yards container volume leaves by rail, with the 
remainder departing over-the-road. The majority of outbound containers are 
distributed to final destination within 300 miles of Chicago. This makes the ease of 
container transfer feature of the new facility layout so important. [Ref 10: p. 33] 









Tl K'l 

T,i— in 

Figure 8.1 New Global I Gantn' Crane. 

Four sets of tracks equipped with the new gantr\' cranes, model MJIOOODS 
built by Mi-Jack, can accommodate 10 five-unit cars each. An additional area can 
handle another 22 cars with existing overhead cranes and conventional side loaders. 
[Ref. 10: p. 33] 

Another feature of the new yard is the fact that containers aren't stacked. All 
containers are on chassis and are driven out of or around the yard by tractors. This 
highlights the continuous How goal of new terminal design. The majority of containers 
are expected to cycle through the yard within hours of arrival, assuring the fast 
turnaround necessan.' for a seven day Chicago West Coast round trip schedule. Any 
delay in round trip time would have required the acquisition of additional expensive 
railcar sets to meet vessel sailing schedules. [Ref 10: p. 33] 

Interestingly, efTiciency more than speed has been the result of the Global I 
facility. The unload/load time for one stack train remains 12 hours, but at a much 
lower cost with the new capital intensive equipment. Also, with the ability to 
simultaneously handle three 200 container stack trains in 12 hours, the yard now 
boasts an annual throughput capacity of 876,000 containers. The true operational 
limitation has been shifted to the speed and capacity constraints of the other segments 
of the transportation system, i.e., the port loading facilities at one end and the 


customer's ability to handle his freight and get it out the door at the other end. The 
stack train has had the eOect of enlarging the conduit diameter in the journey leg by 
enabling a larger slug of containers to be delivered more quickly than before and puts 
greater emphasis upon terminal handling facilities. As terminals are upgraded, the 
network constraints will continually shift to whichever is the most antiquated and 
inefficient facility. [Ref 10: pp. 33-34] 

This quickened container transfer pace has required more intensive 
management control of operations and tighter coordination between carriers. Weekly, 
the C&NW management at Global I meets with vessel operators to map out a game 
plan. Computer links with western ports allow C&NW to know the exact makeup of 
trains two days before they arrive and any modifications to port calls based on storms 
at sea or other constraints. [Ref 10: p. 34] 

Electronic advance-receipt of paperwork and processing the driver's outbound 
paperwork at check-in time all help to remove stop points in the container's travel 
through the yard. [Ref 10: p. 34] 

Preloading is done whenever a shipper buys spare sets of cars and leaves them 
at the yard. Some pre-load as much as one-half to three-quarters of a train consist. 
This dramatically cuts turnaround time. All these techniques have been developed to 
reduce the chance of vessel delays in port. In essence, the influence of the ocean 
carrier has now been felt by railroads as far inland as Chicago insofar as the 
justification for the S36 miUion expenditure for these improvements stems from the 
high cost of vessel delay incurred by the steamship operator, not the railroad. The 
insulation between the two modes of transportation has finally been broken, wherein 
the potential penalty costs of vessel delay are traded for a smaller additional charge for 
more intensive, expedited railroad equipment operation. [Ref 10: p. 34] 

Just hke a false floor beneath a computer installation, the C&NW yard is 
asphalt paved, not cemented, to allow for inexpensive remodelling as improvements are 
already envisioned. Fully computerized loading gantries that are guided by imbedded 
wire, and computerized sorting, watching, and positioning of trailers are just two of 
many hands olT container handling innovations foreseen in the future. [Ref 10: p. 34] 
2. Hub And Spoke Route System 

Another disappearing entity is the "circus ramp" style terminal for TOFC and 
container-on-chassis-on-flatcar unloading. Named for the method used by circus trains 
to unload their cars, a ramp would be constructed at a spur and car crossover plates 


would allow tractors to drive oIT trailers over connected flatcars to one exit ramp. The 
requirement for speedy deliveiT. as exemplified by tight stack train schedules, has 
doomed the circus ramp terminals to obsolescence. The many stops required bv an 
intermodal train to service the multitude of circus ramps tremendously slows deliver}- of 
the final destination trailers. What has replaced circus ramps is the new "hub and 
spoke" system whereby express trains deliver to a few major hub terminals from which 
final deliver}' by truck is arranged. Although the truck leg maybe slightly longer, the 
rail leg has been dramatically shortened in time. This concept further clears the way 
for stack trains to service a greater number of routes in the developing domestic 
containerized freight network. [Ref 23: p. 58] 


1. Introduction 

In addition to the inland railyard having to become more efficient to 
accommodate stack trains, so too must marine terminals handling the new 4500-TEU 
ships. In effect, the marine terminal must quickly and efTiciently convert a 4500-TEU 
mega-ship load of containers into a string of outbound 200 container (400-TEU) mini- 
ship loads onboard stack trains. 

Most significant in this trend has been the activity along the Pacific Coast 
wherein railroads and port authorities are cooperating in establishing large railyards at 
or near the port areas. The impetus appears to be the crucial solicitation of domestic 
cargo via price, service, or a combination for the westbound trip in order to make the 
concept overwhelmingly attractive to shippers as well as carriers. The meshing of 
import and domestic traffic in the form of containers at these facilities is causing many 
handling problems for the yards that possess neither the storage areas required nor the 
room to expand. This has already developed pressures toward fewer but larger 
terminals and more efTicient handling equipment at Seattle, Tacoma, Oakland, and 
most recently Los Angeles. [Ref 24: p. 39] 

2. Intermodal Container Transfer Facility 

The most notable example of these new facilities is the Intermodal Container 
Transfer Facility (ICTF). a S62 miUion joint project of Southern Pacific and the ports 
of Los Angeles and Long Beach. When completed, the 150-acre facility is expected to 
handle 360,000 containers annually. It has five operating tracks, center-aisle parking 
and two run-around tracks, a combination that will permit the prestaging of loads for 


an 84-car double-stack train. The complex will include 10 buildings, a six-stor\- control 
lower and a I6-lane inspection building with Customs accommodations. The entire 
terminal will be radio-and TV-monitored for 24 hours, seven days a week, operation. A 
view of the ICTF is shown in Figure 8.2. [Ref. 24: p. 40] 

Such "load centers" are ideal in that they: [Ref. 24: p. 40] 

1) Serve a large metropolitan population market. 

2) Have a well-located harbor with good port facilities. 

3) Feature a suitable inland infrastructure for trucks and railroads. 

4) Can call on nearby support from freight forwarders, brokers, and banks. 

Figure 8.2 The Intermodal Container Transfer Facility. 

Dockside water depths will allow access by future 5500-TEL' vessels. Ship 
loading gantn.' cranes will be able to reach over 16 rows of containers stacked four high 
on a ships deck, with 12 rows stacked nine high in the hold. That means an outreach 
to 14()-fect or more in which multiple boxes are transferred at high throughput rates. 
These "fourth generation" cranes will be rated at 40 long tons in capacity. [Ref 24: p. 

Such productivity rates extend to a capability for loading and unloading 800 
to 1000 40- to 45-foot containers every 24 hours. By comparison, inland terminals 
such as the old C&NW vard in Chicaco are rated hishlv elFicient in handlins 600 boxes 


per day (the new Global I rate translates theoretically to 12(XJ containers per 24 hour 
period). [Refs. 24.10; pp. 40.36] 
3. On-Dock. Transfer 

The new facilities can be expected to eventually incorporate direct vessel-to- 
rail movements, overcoming, in the process, "place of rest" concerns. The number of 
movements, or steps, a container must go through from lift out of the vessel container 
slot to the final load onto an over-the-road truck chassis or rail is the most important 
determinant in measuring terminal efiiciency. Both containerships and double-stack 
trains are highly specialized systems for container transportation. Getting the most 
efficiency out of both systems from a single terminal is a difficult process. [Ref 24: p. 

Current terminal buffer operations typically require at least two lifts and a 
drayage. One lift ofT the vessel to a yard chassis, then a temporary storage followed by 
a dray out of the gate to a rail terminal for lift onto an intermodal railcar are the 
minimum steps currently taken. Some port facilities have additional storage or a long 
dray as additional inconveniences. No North American port has maintained a direct 
ship-to-rail transfer of significant volume or duration. A properly sorted rail train 
consist cannot be practically loaded under a vessel container lift crane without 
significant jockeying of an unwieldly train set. The on-dock transfer systems use either 
a vehicle or ground storage as an intermediary between the ship and the railroad cars. 
[Ref 25: pp. 1-2] 

The objective of on-dock transfer is to reduce the cost, time, and 
administrative effort required to shift containers between the ship and the railroad. 
The major cost elements in container transfer are terminal space and facilities, 
container lifting and moving equipment, the number of container lifts, and the number 
of drayage hookups and drops. The time taken for each operation affects both cost 
and service quality. The theoretical advantages of on-dock transfer lie in the complete 
elimination of one or more operations from the chain of lifts and moves required 
between ship and rail. However, the advent of dedicated double-stack trains has 
encouraged railroads to expand off-dock ICTFs to avoid separating the mile-long 
trains. The railroads want to minimize switching and sorting, and so might be 
amenable to handling a full train on-dock, if it would fit. Perhaps blocks of six to ten 
double-stack cars dedicated to specific customers may allow railroads to serve less- 
than-trainload, single user terminals while keeping switching and sorting costs to a 
minimum. [Ref 25: pp. 2.10] 


Because of various limitations, the physical dray between ship and rail cannot 
be readily eliminated. What can be eliminated by co-locating rail facilities, for 
example, are the gate barriers, the use of highway licensed and equipped drayage 
equipment, and the loading restrictions imposed by highway weight limits. Double- 
stack trains, or sets of dedicated double-stack cars, can be elTiciently handled at on- 
dock transfers where sulTicient volume is available to outweigh the rail switching costs 
and minimize any re-sorting or topping-ofT requirements. [Ref 25: pp. 14.17] 


It has been shown that vast sums of money and significant design elTorts are 
being expended in the development of rail and marine terminal efiiciency. When 
complete and fine-tuned to accept the volumes of containers that mega-ships and 
double-stack trains can surge through their facilities, a network will emerge that will 
consist of just a handful ot^ super-high volume, super-efiicient. container handling 
facilities through which the vast majority of U.S. import export and transcontinental 
domestic container cargo will move. Double-stack development has helped point out 
the absolute necessity for investment in these facilities, the lack of which would 
generate massive inefilciencies to counter the potential of stack trains. 




It has been conclusively presented, with rigorous background data, that 
emergence of the double-stack container train resulted from three major influences. 
The first, enabling legislation through deregulation of the railroads and the ocean 
carriers, has legally allowed binding contractual arrangements between the rail carriers 
and steamship lines. The second influence entailed a focus on cost saving techniques 
and equipment such as double-stack Linertrains that intense market competition forced 
upon the ocean carriers and the rail carriers reluctantly acquiesced to. Stack trains are 
a cost saving device rather than a revenue enhancement innovation in that the stack 
train performs an identical service to conventional COFC equipment, but at a 
significant savings in fuel and labor resources. The third influence came as a result of 
the keen competition in worldwide intermodal container carriage. U.S. landbridge 
advocates chose the double-stack container train to use as a weapon in challenging the 
all-water carriers for the increasingly lucrative eastbound import traffic originating in 
the Far East and destined either for the U.S. market or landbridged to the growing 
European markets. 

Following a brief historical recounting of the first stack train service and a 
description of the current service network, a thorough analysis of the stack train 
manufacturers and their equipment oflerings helped to conceptualize what a double- 
stack train looks like and what benefits it provides for the operator in saving precious 
resources in fuel and manpower. Further, an exacting description of competing designs 
helped to focus on their differences and similarities in the hopes that such rigorous 
analysis might spawn creative adaptation of the equipment for some unique military 
service appUcation. 

A rare view of an actual ocean carrier/railroad contract followed, providing 
insight into the actual clauses that shape how the railroad receives a certain revenue in 
exchange for equipment leasing and minimum volume requirements for container 
oflerings by the steamship lines to the railroads. Depending on the actual profitability 
to the railroads of the fixed fee service provided, a clear-cut winner may prove hard to 


A general view holds that double-stack, container trains have been somewhat 
more profitable to the railroads than conventional COFC has been. Caution is urged, 
though, in that financial operating data on stack trains is not generally available from 
railroad carriers sincerely interested in protecting proprietarty data and expanding their 
share of the market with just the right fine-tuned contractual arrangements to be 

The development of the new intermodal container freight network has led to 
more quickly exposing the inefficient links in the fast evolving time-sensitive logistics 
network. Larger container ships and more tightly scheduled 200-container stack trains 
impose mounting pressure on both rail and marine container handling yards to move 
these large volume container surges through their systems efliciently and quickly, 
without mishap. Just-in-time inventorv' management techniques and the increasingly 
high-value nature of the goods shipped in containers make it paramount that terminals 
cease being short-term warehouse facilities for containers and become just a bufTer 
zone for interchange of containers between modes. Global I and the Intermodal 
Container Transfer Facility total up as a S9S million investment in the newest 
techniques for terminal handling of containers and double-stack container trains. 


A whole new worldwide intermodal container freight transportation system is fast 
developing that promises to radically replace traditional views of handling and moving 
cargo. The parochial viewpoints of each mode (water, rail, truck) in which a defiant 
attitude prevented cooperative efforts have of necessity been replaced by a strong 
desire to posture themselves to fit into their niche in the intermodal transportation 

Double-stack container trains have undoubtedly become the major links between 
vastly improved marine and rail mega-terminals. A philosophical aura, of sorts, has 
evolved around stack train operations that imbue a spirit of prompt, tightly controlled 
and monitored, highly expedited service that appears to go far beyond the mere 
mechanical differences between stack train well cars and conventional COFC 
equipment. It seems as though first the steamship lines, and then the railroad 
operators, have taken the opportunity to use the stack train innovation as a convenient 
symbol to attach onto the new ways of thinking about cargo handling and movement 
control. With the stack trains already inherent physical attributes of fuel and 


manpower savings, its success and greater market penetration througli improved service 
is ensured as well. 

The fallout, then, of the double-stack development, far exceeds merely improved 
eniciency of traditional operations. The ocean carriers and railroads have pushed 
forward to actually enhance service through new management techniques and cargo 
control and, as a result of widespread publicity for the stack train, have linked its 
appearance with dramatic transportation system improvements. 


As the equipment manufacturers are flush with success and enthusiastic about 
further technological improvements to their new cars, the military services would be 
wise to take advantage of this state of affairs and thoroughly examine their cargo and 
unique equipment transport requirements for possible special adaptation of these cars. 
The Gunderson bulkhead cars could be tested for safe and more secure ammunition 
movements as just one example. Perhaps a future 125-ton truck-equipped stand-alone 
stack car could provide compact transport of heavy military cargo in a mobilization 
scenario to port facilities with limited railroad siding accommodations. 

As for the commercial movement of military cargo, the awareness to the presence 
of double-stack train routes might open a new avenue of negotiation for volume point- 
to-point rates in which the knowledge of lower carrier costs through stack car service 
along a particular route may enable the government negotiator to hold out for lower 
margin rates. At least it would provide service improvements in the form of reduced 
transit times and reduced loss and damage claims as a result of faster, more tightly 
monitored train movements. 

A greater awareness of the benefits available from double-stack train service and 
its equipment is highly recommended for all niilitary personnel involved in or dealing 
with the transportation industry. Military cargo shippers must also understand the 
benefits of stack trains if they are to protect the taxpayer's dollar in military- 
containerized carso movement. 



1. Mahonev. John H.. Imcrmodal Freight Transporiaiion, ENO Foundation Ror 
Transportation. Inc.. Westport. Connecticut. 1955. 


Johnson. B.. "Double Stack Railcars Planned Bv APE." Container News, v. 18. pp. 
30-31. October 19S3. 

3. Fcit. P.F.. Jane's Freight Containers, 18th ed.. pp. 13-14. Jane's Publishing 
Company Limited. London. England. 1986. 

4. Hesterman. \1. T.. "Double-Stacking: A Maritime View,"' Railway Ase, v. 186, 
pp. 46-48.90. May 1985. 

5. Hudson. J.F. and Baken F., "The Current Surface Transport Interrelationships 
AtTectine Intermodal Growth." Transportation Research Forum, v. 26. pp. 

6. Fxempt Rail Transportation Agreement, Ocean Carrier Prepared Draft, pp. 1-13, 

7. Horner. D.H., Jr.. CPT and Marcus. H.S., "Adventures In Intermodalism 
Double-stackmg Container Trains." Translog, v. 17. pp. 10-13. June 1986. 

8. Malone. F.. "APE Linertrains Stack Up Profits." Railway Age. v. 185. pp. 62-64. 
April 1985. • 

Guv. L.. Intermodal Operations Manager. American 
Interview. 23 June 1986. 

President Intermodal, 

10. Borzo, G.. "Containers Stacked Two High But Handled Onlv Once." Modern 
Railroads, v. 41, pp. 32-33.36, May 1986. ^ 

11. Malone. F.. "Double-Stacks: What's Next?" Railway Age, v. 186. pp. 36-39, Mav 
1986. ' 

12. The New Generation Container Car: Twin-Stack, Sales Brochure, pp. 1-4, 
Gunderson Inc. 1986. 

13. Thrall Car Vlanufacturing Companv, "Blueprints for Double-Stack Articulated 
Railcar Set." 22 October 1^86. 

14. Thrall Car Manufacturing Companv. "Annual Fact Sheet on Double-Stack 
Railcar Dimensions and Statistics," 1985. 

15. American President Lines, "APE Fact Sheet on Dvnamic Forces Alfecting 
Railcars." pp. 1-3. 1985. 


16. Johnson. B., "Growth Prospects Good For Douhle-Stack Cars," Conuiiner Xews. 
V. 21. pp. 30.32,37. April ls/S6. 

17. Arthur D. Little, Inc.. Conwaraiive Analysis Of Terminal Economics For Double- 
Slack Cars, pp. 1-8. 7 March 1986. 

IS. Williams. J.H. and Roberts, J.H.. "The Potential EfTects Of Improved Railroad 
Intermodal Fechnolosv Within A Competitive Environment,' Transporiaiion 
Research Forum, v. 26:pp. 242-248, 1985. 

19. Smith. D.S.. "Fuel Use Simulations Of High Productivity Container Trains." 
Fransporianon Research Forum, v. 26, pp. 236"-241, 1985. 

20. Airflow Sciences Corporation to Gunderson Inc.. Subject: ASCs Wind Tunnel 
Tesis of ihe Twin-Stack Railcar, 13 September 1985. 

21. "TT Designs Stand-Alone Stack Cars," Railway Age, v. 186, p. 22, February- 1986. 

22. Wesselmann. C, ". . . But What's It Doing To The Track?" Modern Railroads, 
v. 41, pp. 39-40, March 1986. 

23. Cooke, J. A., "What's Behind THe Upturn In Service," Traffic Management, v. 
142, pp. 58-59.61,63, September 1985. 

24. Wesselmann, C, "Ship ... To Shore ... To Rail," Modern Railrads, v. 41, pp. 
38-40. May 1 986. 

25. Smith, D.. On- Dock Transfer: Facing The Issues, Submitted For the 1986 Annual 
Meeting of the Canadian Transportation Research Forum. March 1986. 



No. Copies 

1. Defense Technical Information Center 2 
Cameron Station 

Alexandria. Virginia 22304-6145 

2. Defense Loeistics Studies Information Exchange 1 
U.S. Armv Loaistics Management Center 

Fort Lee/Virgmia 23SUl-5(TOO 

3. Library-. Code 0142 2 
Naval Tosteraduate School 

Monterey. California 93940-5002 

4. Naval Supplv Svstems Command 1 
Deputv Conimander lor Transportation 

Attn: Code SUP-05 
Washington D.C. 20376-5000 

5. Professor D.C. Boger 1 
Code 54Bo 

Naval Posteraduate School 
Monterey, California 93943-5000 

6. Professor Stephen L. Mehav 1 
Code 54Mp 

Naval Postsraduate School 
Montery. California 93943-5000 

7. NaN"v Material Transportation Office 2 
Attn: LCDR K.H. Bernhardt 

Naval Station. Bide Z- 133-5 
Norfolk. Virginia 23511 

8. Department of the Armv 2 
Militarv TralTic Management Command 

Transportation Ensine^erine Aeencv 
Attn: CPT D.H. fUorner. Jr. ^ ' 
PO Box 6276 
Newport News, Virginia 23606 

9. Manalvtics. Inc. 1 
Attn: Daniel Smith - ' 

625 Third Street 

San Francisco. California 94107 

10. American President Intermodal 2 
Attn: Larome Guv 

1800 Harrison Street 
Oakland. California 94612 

11. Greenbrier Intermodal 1 
Ann: Robert G. \'ates 

1875 Olvmpic Boulevard Suite 200 
Walnut 'Creek. California 94596 

12. Sea-Land Services. Inc. 1 
Pacific Division 

.Attn: James A. Videle 

1 Kaiser Plaza 

Oakland, California 94612 



(3 6 3/7 


Hillis, Shaun 




Double-stack unit train 
container service: its 
commercial impact and 
value to the military